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THIS BUSINESS OF 
EXPLORING 



By ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS 

On the Twil n\ Ancient M t ;n 

Knd\ of ihr" faith 

7V/ /.v liu\inr&\ o{ AX/J 



BY 



imU.CTOR, THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, AND 
LEADER OF Tilt CENTRAL ASIATIC EXPEDITIONS 



Fully Illustrated 



To 

My Best Editor 

MY WIFE 
Wilhelmina C. Andrews 



Parts of this book have appeared in The 
Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, This 
Week and Natural History. My thanks arc due 
to the editors of these publications for permis- 
sion to republish this material. 

R. C. A. 



PREFACE 



/ ALWAYS like to shift the responsibility for a book of 
mine to some one else, or at least to divide it. The chief 
responsibility for this volume is my wife's, for it was her 
suggestion that I write an informal account of my con- 
ception of modern explorationthe exploration of today 
and tomorrow as I have told it to her. 

There was a selfish motive, too, for it may help to an- 
swer the questions which come to me by the thousand: 
"How can I be an explorer?" 
"What remains to be done in exploration?" 
After telling in the first chapter what this business of 
exploration has become, I have amplified some of the 
details by my own experiences in the field and out of it, 
As a concrete example of modern scientific exploration 
I have given an account of the 1928-30 Central Asiatic 
Expeditions in the Gobi Desert which has not been pub- 
lished in popular book form. These Expeditions were 
conducted with a background of war, banditry and 
politics in China, which made them interesting but ex- 
ceedingly difficult. The story of the Central Asiatic Ex- 
peditions from 1922 to 1925 has been published in "On 
The Trail of Ancient Man" (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926). 
This book completes the popular narrative. The scien- 
tific record is still appearing in a series of twelve quarto 
volumes and hundreds of separate scientific papers. 

ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS 

Oscar Seagle Colony, Schroon Lake, 
Adirondack, New York, August, 1935. 



SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL STAFF 

OF THE 
CENTRAL ASIATIC EXPEDITIONS 

1938-1930 



ANDREWS, ROY CHAPMAN Leader and Zoologist, 
1928-30 

GRANGER, WALTER Chief Paleontologist, Second in 
Command, 1928-30 

GARBER, A. Z. Surgeon, 1930 

GRABAU, A. W. Research Associate, 1928-30 

HILL, W. P. T. -Topographer, 1928 

HORVATH, G. Motor Transport, 1928 

PEREZ, J. A. Surgeon, 1928 

POND, ALONZO Vf.Archaologist, 1928 

SHACKELFORD, J. B.Photographer, 1928 

SPOCK, L. ERSKINE Geologist, 1928 

TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, PERE Geologist, 1930 

THOMSON, ALBERT Assistant in Paleontology, 1928-30 

WYMAN, W, G. Topographer, 1930 

YOUNG, J. MCK.ENZIE Chief, Motor Transport, 1928-30 

ERIKSSON, JOEL Agent in Mongolia, 1928-30 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Preface vii 

Scientific and Technical Staff ix 

Foreword xv 

CHAPTER 

I. EXPLORITIS 3 

II. DANGER 19 

III. SNAKES 36 

IV. RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 46 
V. WOLF OF MONGOLIA 66 

VI. SUPERSTITION 88 

VII. J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 102 

VIII. WAR IN PEKING 119 

IX. ATTEMPTS TO REACH MONGOLIA 133 

X. POLITICS AND PEOPLE 142 

XL IN THE DESERT AT LAST 160 

XII. GOBI SANDSTORMS *74 

XIII. WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 187 

XIV. EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 199 
XV. DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 211 

XVL END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 224 

xi 



CONTENTS 



XVII. THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 238 

XVIII. THE FATE OF THE RASH PLATYBELODON 250 

XIX. WOLF CAMP 259 

XX. THE END OF THE TRAIL 268 

APPENDIX A. THE DUNE DWELLERS OF MONGOLIA 276 

B. SUMMARY OF OUTSTANDING RESULTS 
OF THE CENTRAL ASIATIC EXPEDI- 
TIONS 281 



XII 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



i. Roy Chapman Andrews in the Gobi 

Desert Fron tispiece 



PACING PAGE 



2. Captain Hill surveying at Baluch Camp 6 

3. Typical Page from the Geologists' Daily Route 

Notebook 7 

4. Bandits Halt the Expedition's Cars. Ready for 

an Expected Attack by Bandits 26 

5. One of the Hazards of Gobi Travel 27 

6. Our Pet Antelope Nursing from its Foster 

Mother, a Mongol Goat 46 

7. Head of Desert Gazelle. Head of Mongolian 

Black Vulture 47 

8- Pushing One of the Expedition Cars through 

the Sand. Wolf on Top of the Load 76 

9. A Well in the Desert 77 

10. Mongols Listening to Victrola 96 

11. A Prayer Wheel and a Lama at Urga. A Five- 

Year-Old Sheep Herder 97 

15. McKenzie Young and Pet Antelope. Mongol 

Draws Map in the Sand of Western Trails 1 14 

13. Expedition in Camp at Night. McKenzie 

Young Third from Right 115 

14. Andrews and Tserin Go Out to Meet the 

Camels 126 

xiii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING PAGE 



15. Andrews, Granger and Young Repacking Car- 
avan Supplies 127 

z6. Dr. Andrews Scans the Desert for Trails that 

Lead to the East 143 

17. Mongol Yurt and Corral for Lambs, Kids and 

Calves 143 

18. Tserin Points Out Approaching Caravan to 

Andrews 168 

19. Patching a Camel's Foot with Rubber Tire 169 

20. Fossil-Bearing Country at Baluch Camp 184 

21. A Pet Red-billed Chough Tells the Chief 

Palaeontologist a Secret 185 

22* Dinosaurs at Iren Dabasu (Erhlien) 194 

23. The Site of an Ancient Dune Dweller Hearth 195 

94. The Expedition at "Wolf Camp*' 208 

25. Entclodon, a Giant Pig-like Animal 209 

26. Restoration of Baluchitherium Painted by 

Charles R. Knight 220 

27. Granger Excavating the Skull of an Embolo* 

Iherhim 221 

28. Restoration of Shovel-tusked Mastodon by 

Margaret Flinsch 238 

29. Two Jaws of Shovel-tusked Mastodons from 

the Great Quarry 239 

30. Granger and Thomson with a Shovel-tusked 

Mastodon's Jaw 258 

31* The Graveyard of the Shovel-tusked Masto- 
dons After Three Weeks' Excavation 259 

xiv 



FOREWORD 



Why I Am An Explorer 

I WAS born to be an explorer. There never was any de- 
cision to make. I couldn't do anything else and be happy. 
As a little boy every moment that I could steal from 
school was spent in the woods along the banks of Rock 
River in Wisconsin or on the water itself. Wanderlust 
was in my blood. The desire to see new places, to dis- 
cover new facts the curiosity of life always has been a 
resistless driving force in me. 

The wild desire to go was stronger than anything else. 
I had to go. I couldn't help it. My job has taken me to the 
Gobi. It is one of the greatest and most arid deserts in 
the world; a land of desolation, of thirst, and bitter cold 
and parching heat; of sandstorms and of tragedy. There, 
hardships are one's daily portion. I have been so thirsty 
that my tongue swelled out of my mouth. I have plowed 
my way through a blizzard at fifty below zero, against 
wind that cut like a white-hot brand. I have seen my 
whole camp swept from the face of the desert like a dry 
leaf by a whirling sandstorm. I have fought with Chinese 
bandits. But these things are all a part of the day's work. 

You wonder why I did it; if I thought I ought to so 
that the world might be richer for the discovery of a 
dinosaur egg or a Baluchi therium or a new lake or moun- 
tain! Perhaps you think that I feel like a martyr, willing 

XV 



FOREWORD 



to sacrifice my flesh and health on the altar of science 
that my fellow men may learn the secrets of nature. 

Well, I wish I might claim such lofty motives; but 
I'd be lying if I did. The truth is I did it because I 
couldn't help it; because I wanted to do it more than 
anything else in the world; because it made me happy; 
because to sit behind a desk day after day and year after 
year would be a greater hardship. 

Until last year, for twenty-five years, I had not stayed 
twelve consecutive months in any one country. My home 
was wherever I hung my hat. I remember I said that one 
night to Mac Young when we were hunting Mongolian 
big-horned sheep on the summit of the Altai Mountains 
in the heart of the Gobi Desert. We had left our sleeping- 
bags in a saddle of the ridge while we watched a herd of 
sheep from behind the shelter of a rock. Not a breath of 
wind had stirred the grass until just as the sun sank be- 
low the western peaks; then the evening breeze came 
lazily up the valley, played for an instant among the rocks 
and passed over the crest. Instantly there were startled 
snorts, a rush of feet, and the hillside lay empty in the 
twilight shadows. The abrupt ending to the peaceful 
scene left us thoughtful. We lighted our pipes and wan- 
dered slowly back to the grazing ponies. 

"Let's go home," I said to Mac, and, as we rode on in 
the stillness of the summer night, I thought of what the 
word had meant to me since I had begun to wander. 
Tonight "home" was the spot where we had left our 
sleeping-bags on the saddle between the peaks! In the 
painted desert of Gobi; in steaming Borneo jungles; 
among palm trees on the enchanted islands of the East 
xvi 



FOREWORD 



Indies; in the wilderness of Korean forests; on the sum- 
mit of the Himalayas; along the fog-bound shores of 
Bering Seawherever I made my camp fire, there was 
"home." 

Once I almost stayed a full twelve months in New 
York, but a robin spoiled it all. I had a penthouse on the 
roof of a building overlooking Central Park. My apart- 
ment was filled with Chinese things, paintings four hun- 
dred years old, a beautiful gold lacquer chest made for 
a Ming Emperor; silks and embroideries from the For- 
bidden City of old Peking. The roof was a lovely garden, 
bright with flowers and shrubs and even a fountain. Early 
one morning I was asleep in my bedroom. It was spring 
and the door was open wide; sunshine poured in like a 
golden flood. Vaguely in my dreams I seemed to hear a 
bird's note. It was clearer as I slowly came to conscious- 
ness, a rippling flood of song. I thought I was in my tent 
in the desert, but my eyes opened to my New York bed- 
room. I got up and went quietly to the door. Just outside 
on the edge of the fountain sat a robin singing his heart 
out. And he sang my heart out too. For suddenly I real- 
ized that it was spring; that the birds were flying north; 
that long black lines of geese were streaking the sky over 
the desert in Mongolia; that the rivers from the moun- 
tains were running full. And I was in New York, held 
by the invisible threads of civilization. I couldn't go. 
Thousands of dollars in lectures; a book to write; en- 
gagements for weeks ahead. 

But couldn't I go? What use to me of the money if it 
didn't make me happy? How could I write a book if I 
were miserable doing it. Were any engagements too im- 

xvii 



FOREWORD 



portant to be broken? I knew it was no use. I was in the 
grip of the old wanderlust which has ever drawn me out 
upon the open road. For six months it had been dormant, 
but only dormant. The robin's song had waked it from 
its long winter sleep. The next hour I was in my office 
at the Museum sending telegrams and cables across half 
the world "Unavoidable circumstances; war in China 
has unexpectedly called me back to Asia! Must sail at 
once!" 

A few weeks later I was on the edge of the Gobi. The 
long brown line of loaded camels was already winding 
its way across the desert to our rendezvous at the "Valley 
of the Jewels/' The first night in camp I was supremely 
happy. I lay in my fur bag looking at the blue cloth 
above me, at my rifle and revolver in the accustomed 
place slung to the tentpole, at field glasses and duffle sack 
beside my head. My old friend Walter Granger slept at 
my side. If it had not been for that robin singing on my 
roof garden in New York I would still have been there 
chained to the conventions of civilization. 

But my job has done a good deal more than just fulfill 
my craving to wander. It has given me also the necessary 
satisfaction of accomplishment. There is a thrill like 
nothing else on earth in discovering something new. I 
had that thrill when I stood on the summit of a moun- 
tain gazing over a country which no white man had ever 
looked upon before. I had it out there in the desert when 
I realized that lying before us were the first dinosaur 
eggs ever seen by human eyes. I had it again in the 
laboratory of the Museum when we opened a block of 
stone ninety-five million years old from the Gobi. I had 
xviii 



FOREWORD 



that thrill when we discovered the tomb where twenty 
great, shovel-tusked Mastodons had been buried two mil- 
lion years ago. 

Reconstructing the picture; that's what fascinates me. 
We may not get all the details correctly, but the main 
facts are just as clear as though they had been written in 
stone and left for us to read. 

It is that sort of thing which makes me know that I 
wouldn't trade my job for atiy other in the world. 

But don't think for a moment that because I am a 
wanderer to the far places of the earth that I hate civili- 
zation. On the contrary, I like people and I like cities 
by way of contrast. New York is thrilling to me: the rush 
and roar; the ceaseless energy; the relentless struggle for 
existence, the interesting people. All that is fascinating 
for a time. Then suddenly I must get away. 

And as I stand in my roof garden and look up at the 
starlit sky, I see the drifting clouds and go with them in 
imagination far out to sea into strange new worlds. Then 
I count the days that still remain before I can set my feet 
upon the unknown trails that lead eastward to the 
Orient. 



XIX 



THIS BUSINESS OF 
EXPLORING 



CHAPTER I 



Exploritis 

EXPLORITIS is not a new disease. In fact, it is just 
about as old as the human race. Adam's most primitive 
grandfather was an explorer. That's the reason why the 
earth today is peopled to the uttermost corners. But in 
most individuals the germs lie dormant, giving only a 
stir now and then to culminate in spring fever. Re- 
cently something has roused them to new activity, and 
America's young men and women are badly infected. 
I happen to know, because I am one of the physicians 
who are called upon to diagnose and prescribe. I suppose 
that "something" is the great expeditions of recent 
years. Amundsen, Ellsworth and Byrd in the North; the 
tragedy of the Italia; Byrd and Mawson in the Antarctic; 
Wilkins' submarine voyage to the polar basin; Sven 
Hedin in Central Asia, and perhaps, my own work in the 
Gobi. These expeditions all have gone into the field in 
the last fifteen years. They were replete with high adven- 
ture, romance and scientific achievement. Radio has kept 
them in touch with the world, and newspapers have told 
their stories day by day. Boys have learned to know the 
members of the expeditions as though they were per- 
sonal friends. Small wonder that the urge is bom to go 
and do likewise. 

Ten years ago I used to receive an average of five 

3 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



letters a week from would-be explorers. Now there are 
three times that number. Their tenor is all the same: 
"How can I be an explorer? What should I study in col- 
lege? What still remains to be explored?" Fifteen a week 
is only my personal share. Probably the others have more 
than that. We might join forces and open a correspond- 
ence school. It would be useful, too, for there never was 
a time when exploration was more attractive than it is 
today. But it is not the same job that it used to be twenty 
years ago. The methods are different and the work itself 
is different. The old days of the Arctic explorer, foot 
slogging behind his sledge, are for the most part gone. 
Exploration has entered a new phase. The great pioneer 
lines of discovery have been thrown across the continents 
in every direction. Today there remain but a few small 
areas of the world's map unmarked by explorers' trails 
or where an aeroplane has not droned above the moun- 
tain peaks; only a few small areas whose topographic fea- 
tures are unknown. 

But that does not mean that there are no new worlds 
to conquer. It means only that the explorer must change 
his methods. There still are vast regions which poten- 
tially are terra incognita. Many of them are mapped 
poorly if at all, and some hold undreamedof treasures in 
the realm of science. To study these areas; to reveal the 
history of their making to the world of today; to learn 
what they can give for education, culture and for human 
welfare that is the exploration of the present and the 
future. 

Intensive exploration is just as romantic, just as allur- 
ing and almost as adventurous as that of the old days; 

4 



EXPLORITIS 

also it is more comfortable. Modern transportation has 
seen to that. Aeroplanes and automobiles 1 Of course you 
cannot stay up in the air if you are really going to find 
out about a country. You must get your feet on the earth 
and your hands on the rocks. But a plane or a motor car 
puts you where you want to go without loss of time or 
energy. 

Just before I left New York for China the last time, 
The American Museum of Natural History was planning 
an expedition to the jungles of Venezuela. It is fifteen 
days' travel with native carriers from base to the place 
where they want to begin work. There is no food on the 
way, and the coolies must pack enough to take them 
there and bring them back. That reduces the load they 
can deposit to only a few pounds per man. Aeroplanes 
solve this difficulty. Two planes can load with freight, 
fly to the objective in three hours and land on a river. 
Three hours against fifteen days! Once they are in the 
center of the region to be explored, they will settle down 
for an intensive study of its zoology, geology, anthro- 
pology and archaeology. This section of Venezuela is un- 
mapped. The tropic jungles make travel a nightmare. 
But the main features can all be mapped by plane. 

Their scientific exploration will tell us what is in this 
unknown corner of the world. A study of the rocks may 
yield riches in oil or minerals. New species of mammals 
and birds and distribution records will fill in gaps in the 
zoology of the country. They will tell us what native 
tribes are there, how they live and what their past has 
been. These are all problems which await intensive 
study. 

5 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



The explorer of today must first of all be a specialist. 
Thousands of men have applied for places on my own 
expeditions, saying that they are "good outdoor men" 
but have no special training. I cannot even consider 
them. They would be expensive luxuries. Every white 
man who goes with me must do either a technical or a 
scientific job. All the ordinary work can be handled bet- 
ter and cheaper by natives. They are at home, they know 
the language and the customs of the country, can eat its 
food and endure its climate. They can be trained for any 
work which requires only physical qualities or ordinary 
intelligence. 

"How can I be an explorer?" 

There is only one answer: Train yourself for a tech- 
nical or scientific job which fits into exploration. 

Aeroplane pilots, motor experts, topographers, pho- 
tographersthose are some of the technical positions that 
will be open on almost any expedition. Geology, meteor- 
ology, palaeontology, zoology, anthropology, archaeology 
and botany just about fill the bill for the usual scientific 
work. If you want to be an explorer go to school and stay 
there until you have some special knowledge that will 
make you useful. Just brawn and endurance won't get 
you very far in the exploration of today and tomorrow, 

I do not mean to imply that physical fitness is not an 
absolute essential. I never would think of taking a man 
into the field who was not well or did not have ordinary 
endurance. I always have a surgeon on a big expedition, 
but for us he is there as an insurance policy. The Gobi, 
fortunately, is a healthy place. Gunshot wounds, broken 
bones and similar accidents are the greatest danger. In 

6 




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EXPLORITIS 

the tropics it is a different matter. Sickness is highly 
probable, fever almost certain. 

From the physical standpoint it is most important to 
learn early what climate you are best fitted by nature to 
endure. There are two distinct types hot-weather men 
and cold-weather men. Will Beebe is a good example of 
the former. He has often told me that he simply shrivels 
up in the cold. But he is like a salamander in the tropics. 
The hotter it gets the better he feels. The blazing equa- 
torial sun brings out all his life and energy. I know a 
dozen others like him. 

Personally I am exactly the opposite. I can stand dry 
heat well enough, but the wet, hot days of the tropics 
simply kill me. My internal motor doesn't function. I 
have to force myself to make the slightest effort. But in 
a temperate or cold climate it is a different matter. I have 
more energy than I know how to use, and the colder it 
gets the better I feel. Dryness, either in heat or cold, 
seems to be essential to my physical health. 

Just after I was out of college, when I first began to 
wander, I spent a year in the East Indies. I had designs 
upon New Guinea, which was and is one of the least- 
known regions of the entire world. But that year proved 
even to my youthful judgment that the tropics were not 
for me. No matter how much I wanted to learn the se- 
crets of the New Guinea jungles it could not be done. 
So I went to the north and stayed there, with the result 
that I have known hardly a day of sickness. 

It is not babyish to care for your health. It is simply 
foolish not to do so. No explorer or any other man can 
do his work properly if he is half sick. Before I went into 

7 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the desert I spent a great deal of time learning from a 
dietitian just what food was necessary to keep the men 
fit. I told him exactly what we could get in the Gobi, 
what were the conditions of climate and temperature 
and how we should have to live. We discussed the most 
minute details of our physical existence. Then he told 
me what a normal man must eat under those conditions. 
I followed his advice, and as a result we had virtually no 
sickness among either our foreign or our native staff. 
Every man on the expedition returned feeling better 
than ever before. Such preparedness was only common 
sense. We had to work at top speed from daylight to 
dark, and the men could not have produced the results 
I expected of them unless they were well fed and feel- 
ing fit. 

Physical health is a prime requisite of mental health, 
and the latter is the most important of all. A man cannot 
get on with his fellows if he is mentally ill. Whenever a 
group of men must live together in more or less isolation 
for a considerable period, it is a real mental strain. It is 
a test of character. Small things which mean nothing in a 
normal existence assume gigantic proportions after a 
time. A man must have the mental balance to see himself 
in the proper perspective relative to his fellows, or else 
disaster ensues. Selfishness is, I suppose, one of the worst 
characteristics on an expedition, I would not take a self- 
ish man, no matter what qualifications he might possess. 
I know several expeditions which have been wrecked be- 
cause of individual selfishness. It is a thing you can't 
combat and is absolutely certain to make trouble. 

For nerves and boredom which at some time inevi~ 
8 



EXPLORITIS 

tably accompany all prolonged expeditions, work is the 
best medicine. As long as a man has something to do he 
is likely to be happy. Peary told me that he used to manu- 
facture all sorts o odd jobs to keep his men busy during 
the long Arctic night while he was waiting to make his 
attack on the North Pole in the first light of returning 
spring. Sir Ernest Shackleton gave me many amusing 
incidents of how he used to handle boredom in the Ant- 
arctic. Every leader of an expedition in almost any part 
of the world has the same experience under different 
conditions. The disease always lurks in the background, 
but work can usually cure it. 

Two or three of my best friends, wealthy sportsmen, 
have begged me to take them into the Gobi on one of our 
expeditions. They have offered to contribute many thou- 
sands of dollars if they could only go. I have had to re- 
fuse in every case simply on the ground that there was 
no job for them to do. Shooting gazelles for camp meat 
is not very exciting, and with no definite work they 
would be bored to distraction. One unhappy or dissatis- 
fied man on an expedition is like the bad apple which in- 
fects all the rest in the barrel. And if things went wrong 
and a little hardship had to be endured there is no com- 
pensating interest to make one forget discomfort. 

It is a popular misconception that hardships are a 
necessary part of an explorer's existence; that without 
hardship and suffering there can be no real exploration! 
Personally I do not believe in hardships. Live as com- 
fortably as you can while you can, is a pretty good motto. 
If it is possible to avoid hardships entirely, that's fine. 
You can do your job just that much better. But if you 

9 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



are in a little-known region it is improbable that you can 
escape without some hardship sooner or later. When it 
does come, if you have been fairly comfortable and well 
the rest of the time, you can take it in your stride and 
laugh while it is going on. 

What is hardship? It depends entirely upon the point 
of view. I happen to enjoy the wild places, to love the 
solitude of the desert, to be happiest when I am living 
a primitive existence. Sleeping on the ground and eating 
the simplest food isn't hardship for me. Still I know hun- 
dreds of men who would simply hate it. Mac Young, our 
chief of motor transport, froze several of his fingers in 
a Mongolian blizzard. It was hardship, all right, but he 
wanted to go back again before the last one had been 
amputated. Yes, it is all in the point of view! If you want 
to do a thing badly enough there will be few hardships in 
it. If you don't want to do it everything is a hardship. 

I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter that let- 
ters asking me how to become an explorer were by no 
means only from the male sex. Hundreds come from 
women, and they are the most difficult to answer. Per- 
sonally I do not see just where women fit into explora- 
tion. That isn't because I am a woman hater. Far from 
it. I do not suppose that any man appreciates the femi- 
nine touch in most things more than I do. But on an 
expedition with a lot of men a woman is likely to be a 
liability. There are few women who are able to do tech- 
nical or scientific work better than a man. No matter 
what one may think about equal rights, undeniably 
women are not as strong as men, physically. That is a 
10 



EXPLORITIS 

serious handicap when the probable hardship comes 
along. Again, women are unfitted to stand certain kinds 
of nerve strain which is more difficult to endure than 
physical discomfort. They are marvelous in a crisis, but 
the petty anoyances of everyday life in an isolated com- 
munity send them off the deep end. 

One season in the Gobi we had six weeks of continual 
sandstorms. There never was a real calm. It simply was a 
matter of how hard the wind blew day after day and 
week after week. Most of the time it was impossible to 
work. We could not even read. There was sand in our 
food and sand in our beds. It was useless to bathe. Some 
of us found shelter under a bank or behind a pile of 
rocks. Others stayed in the tents, their faces covered with 
cloth. Almost every night tents were down. The con- 
tinual flap and whip of canvas were maddening. After a 
fortnight of this every one's nerves were at the breaking 
point. The slightest thing might send one off into un- 
reasoning anger. All of our staff were accustomed to sand- 
storms and realized that they simply had to keep them- 
selves in hand. But it would have been ten times more 
difficult for a woman. 

Then there is the sex problem. I do not have to 
enumerate the objections there. Since it cannot be solved 
even in our cities, why take it with you into the field? 
You will have difficulties enough without adding any 
that can be avoided. If a man wants to go exploring alone 
with his wife, that is quite a different matter; and it has 
worked with one additional male. Also several women 
have carried on their own expeditions successfully. But 

11 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



two or three women with a group of men would simply 
invite trouble. Others may do as they please but I'm not 
having any of it, thank you. 

In exploration, as in most other professions, there is 
no royal road to success. Hard work in preparation and 
experience only can bring permanent results. The gen- 
eral principles of exploration are the same whether they 
are applied in the Arctic, the tropic jungles or the desert. 
Those principles can be learned only by experience in 
the field. The young man who thinks that he can organ- 
ize and lead an expedition without adequate training in 
the hard school of experience is doomed to failure. As- 
suming that he has acquired the necessary technical or 
scientific training, his next move is to join the staff of an 
expedition under a competent leader. It may not be easy, 
but if he persists eventually he will succeed. If he hap- 
pens to be connected with some museum, scientific in- 
stitution, or university, his chances are that much better* 
His first expedition will give him an opportunity to dis- 
cover many things about himself. After the glamour of 
anticipation and departure, when he is actually in the 
field and sees things as they are, he will find out if he 
really likes exploration as a serious profession or just as 
an adventure; whether he is a hot or a cold weather man, 
and what phase of work most appeals to him. He ought 
seriously to consider that home life will be denied him, 
and that he will always be faced with the tragedy of long 
separations from his family. But of course he won't think 
of these things if he is one of those rare individuals, a 
born explorer. If he is only infected with a mild case of 
exploritis, brought on by the universal youthful desire 

12 



EXPLORITIS 

for romance and adventure, his first expedition may 
work a cure. If it does not, the road is open. 

In organizing any expedition the most essential thing 
is a clear-cut plan of what you want to do. What is the 
problem? What will be its value to science, to education 
or to human welfare? The public is no longer interested 
in exploration stunts. There must be a real value to the 
work or it will not be taken seriously. 

If an explorer has the backing of a well-known mu- 
seum, geographical society or scientific institution for 
his projected expedition, it goes a long way in the mind 
'of the public. They have to take it seriously even if they 
do not know much about the man himself. Such backing 
has enabled many young explorers to win their spurs. I 
happen to be a case in point. Without The American 
Museum of Natural History as my sponsor from my 
earliest work to the present day, I should have had a 
hard road to travel. 

It is not difficult to interest a great museum in a 
really worth while project. Conditions may be such that 
they cannot engage in it themselves, but one is likely to 
obtain some support. Exploration is the lifeblood of a 
museum. Through it new facts and new collections flow 
into the institution. Exploration is what makes it a vital 
force in the educational life of a city or a country. But 
most museums are poor. I never yet have seen one which 
had all the money it needed for its projected plans. The 
American Museum of Natural History is an excellent 
example. Even with an annual budget of a million and a 
half dollars we do not have sufficient funds with which 
to conduct the work of the institution. Therefore do not 

13 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



expect that a museum will jump at the chance to finance 
your expedition, no matter how worth while it may be. 

Finances are the bete noire of every explorer. How to 
raise the money? Unless you have the personality and 
ability to sell yourself as well as your plan you are just 
out of luck. Enthusiasm is a sine qua non. You can't 
make some one else believe in your project unless you be- 
lieve in it passionately yourself. I never shall forget one 
day when I had been talking to Mr. J. P. Morgan regard- 
ing the Central Asiatic Expedition. I wanted to do it so 
intensely that I got all steamed up. 

Just as I was going out Mr. Morgan put his hand on 
my shoulder and said, "Roy, don't ever lose your enthusi- 
asm. It is the most valuable characteristic you possess/ 7 

Of course, financing an expedition has many different 
aspects. As a rule, one or two individuals give you a nest 
egg to build upon. It is the first donation that is most 
difficult to get. When you go to see some possible con- 
tributor he is almost certain to ask, "How much do you 
need and how much have you got?" If you can say that 
you already have a substantial amount it has a distinctly 
favorable effect. He realizes that some one else thinks 
your plan worth while, and it confirms his own judg- 
ment. I never obtained anything except small amounts 
by writing letters. It is the personal interview that counts. 
You must be able to infect the other fellow with your 
own enthusiasm, and It is pretty difficult to do that on 
paper. 

Money raising is a hateful job. I never found any ex- 
plorer who liked it. Still, if you want to run your own 
expedition it is one of the things that you have to face. 



EXPLORITIS 



No one else can do it for you. A business manager can 
help a lot, but the brunt of it must fall upon your own 
shoulders. It is easier to raise money for a large exp^t^ 
tion than for a small one. If your project is big-enough 
it stands a better chance of appealing to men with great 
fortunes, for they are accustomed to dealing in big things. 
The small ones do not interest them and they will say 
yes or no without much thought either way. 

Publicity is a valuable asset, of course. Also it may be 
very dangerous. The line between beneficial and harm- 
ful publicity is exceedingly thin. The difficulty is that 
publicity cannot be controlled. A newspaper reporter 
must have some peg upon which to hang the serious ac- 
count of what you intend to do or have done. He wants 
something with a popular appeal, and often what you 
really wish the public to know is distorted or lost en- 
tirely. Over-publicity is a danger. People become bored 
if too much is written about an expedition. That did not 
happen before the days of radio. Real results are always 
interesting, but continual accounts of trivial happenings 
often defeat the purpose for which they were written. 

The ability to lecture or to write entertainingly is an 
enormous asset. Then you do not have to depend upon a 
second person to state your thesis, and the public learns 
to know you at first hand. That, I should say, is the most 
valuable form of publicity, for it is one which you can 
control absolutely. But if you write or lecture do not 
under-estimate your audience. By that I mean don't 
think that it wants merely to be amused. People go to 
lectures to be instructed, but the instruction must be put 
in the form of a sugar-coated pill. If you can give them 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



enough amusement to make the instruction easy to swal- 
low, the result is perfect. They want something that they 
can think over and talk about at breakfast next morning. 
If amusement only were desired they would go to a movie 
or a play. I have lectured for twenty-three years and at 
first I made the very mistake that I have warned against. 
I selected the amusing or exciting episodes of my work 
and touched only casually upon the serious aspects. I 
found that it was not successful and my lecture manager 
told me why. 

Adventures, of course, are always associated with 
exploration. Yet they are the one thing which a real 
explorer tries to guard against. My favorite quotation is 
Stefansson's dictum: " Adventures are a mark of incom- 
petence." It says so much in a very few words. It means 
that if you have an adventurous expedition you did not 
prepare yourself adequately. Adventures are a nuisance. 
They interfere with work. There are many so-called ex- 
plorers who are really travelers seeking adventure. They 
welcome every opportunity for a hairbreadth escape or 
some thrilling experience because it is their stock in 
trade* Then they write a book about their experiences. 
Not having a serious objective which gives them some- 
thing worth while to contribute they tell the story of their 
hardships. I could mention a dozen such men. If the ex- 
plorer has a clear-cut problem to solve and an honest 
desire to do something really worth while he will pre- 
pare against adventures. 

Last winter I heard a man remark that Admiral 
Byrd's Antarctic Expedition was too easy to be interest- 
ing. He went on to say that it was a de luxe expedition 
16 



EXPLORITIS 

and really wasn't a very difficult job. Although such a 
statement only exposed his ignorance it made me rise in 
wrath. AHmiral Byrd's expedition was a colossal under- 
taking. It was magnificently organized and directed and 
was completely successful. Any one who calls an expedi- 
tion of that sort easy deserves the title of fool. The fact 
that he did not have a series of disasters shows better 
than anything else what an able explorer Byrd is. As far 
as a de luxe expedition is concerned, Byrd would have 
been stupid if he had not made use of every modern in- 
vention in transport as well as for the comfort and health 
of his men during their long isolation in the Antarctic. 
I will venture to say that he did not take a single item of 
unnecessary equipment. Success in every branch of his 
work shows how right he was. Byrd is a modern explorer. 
His first care was to eliminate by thorough preparation 
every adventure that foresight could predict. 

Because I advocate preparing against adventures I do 
not mean to imply that a leader should never take risks. 
Better not go out at all if that is his policy. It should be 
a matter of judgment. If the object to be gained warrants 
the risk involved, go ahead. Otherwise don't do it. A 
leader has to decide that for himself. Peary told nie many 
years ago that the leader of an expedition must be pre- 
pared to back his own judgment against that of all his 
men if need be. It is his responsibility. Failure reverts 
on his head alone. He is supposed to have the experience 
and judgment to decide better than any one else. If he 
does not have that he isn't a good leader. After all, the 
principles of exploration are much the same as those 

17 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



involved in directing an army or in conducting a big 
business venture. 

What remains to be done in exploration? I have al- 
ready answered that question, I think. The areas of the 
earth's surface open to intensive exploration are legion. 
They exist on every continent. The Arctic and the Ant- 
arctic, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and New 
Guinea are most clearly indicated. Central Asia, I believe, 
offers the greatest field. But it is also the most difficult to 
enter. Recent pcilitical events in Russia and China have 
erected well-nigh impassable barriers to effective scien- 
tific exploration in Central Asia. 

Russia is active in exploration, but its dominions are 
so vast and so little known that without assistance they 
can make only a small impression upon what remains to 
be done. Although they protest that they are not adverse 
to cooperation with foreign scientific institutions, in- 
ternal conditions make it not easy to conduct a large ex- 
pedition in the regions which they control. In South 
America, Africa, Australia and New Guinea govern- 
mental permission to carry on explorations is not difficult 
to obtain. There is, of course, much archaeological re- 
search to be done in many parts of Europe and North 
America. Enough intensive exploration remains for a 
hundred years of work; probably even then it will not 
be finished. 



18 



CHAPTER II 



Danger 

WHENEVER I start on an expedition the insurance com- 
pany always cancels my accident policy. At first it used 
to make me mad; now I just laugh at the ignorance of 
the company and cheerfully let it go. It saves me money 
and they lose because I am not half so likely to have an 
accident on a trip of real honest-to-goodness exploration 
as I would be in the city. Honestly, if I had had as many 
narrow escapes in the Gobi Desert as I have had from 
being killed by automobiles or in other ways in America, 
I could write a whole book about them. The trouble is 
that such escapes become commonplace. Every one of 
you who lives in the big cities has them every day or two 
and it has robbed them of interest. I am not saying this 
just to pose as a man of intrepid courage, but because it 
is true, as any real explorer will tell you. 

In the field, if your expedition is to be successful, you 
prepare against adventures; yet now and then one will 
happen in spite of foresight. I suppose you can call them 
acts of God. But they are exceptions and as a rule on a 
well-conducted expedition life goes on pretty safely. You 
are living much more normally than you could possibly 
live in the city and you are not dependent upon the devil- 
ish mechanical devices which necessarily complicate a 
communal existence. Just by way of contrast I'll tell you 

19 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



of a few "adventures" I've had in the field and at home. 

One that happened in Mongolia wasn't due to care- 
lessness or stupidity. As a matter of fact why it happened 
is a mystery to me today and always will be. I was driving 
across Mongolia from Kalgan to Urga with a friend who 
later was murdered in China. We were in an open Dodge 
touring car, traveling hard, trying to make the crossing 
in less than four days. Three hours at the wheel and three 
hours' rest was our schedule. I was driving when we 
reached Ude, a collection of five or six Mongol yurts, in 
the center of the Gobi. The trail ran about four hundred 
yards from a rocky promontory which juts out into the 
desert. Charlie was asleep in the rear seat and I was half 
dozing over the wheel for the road was good. Suddenly 
five men appeared on the end of the promontory and, 
without the slightest warning, opened fire on our car. 
They couldn't have been Chinese because they were do- 
ing awfully good shooting and a Chinaman is the world's 
worst shot. The bullets were zinging above our heads and 
plumping into the motor every minute. Boy, did I wake 
up! I humped myself over the wheel, trying to make my- 
self as small as possible, and stepped on the gas. The 
speedometer showed fifty miles an hour but the bullets 
were still hitting us. Charlie got our guns out from under 
a robe and I yelled, 

"We'd better do something about this or well be 
killed. Pass me my rifle." 

I leaned backward to take the gun and at that very 
second a bullet smacked against the steering wheel, shat- 
tering the whole lower side where my body had been 
pressed only a second before. Call it Fate, Divine Protec- 
20 



DANGER 

tion or what you will the fact remains that if I had 
waited a fraction of a second before leaning backward, I 
would have been a dead man. That bullet simply wasn't 
marked with my name. 

The trail led round a high wall of rocks into the soft 
sandy bed of a dry stream. It was a bad place and we 
knew that we never could get through without some 
strenuous pushing on the car. Sure enough we were stuck 
in a few moments but at least we were completely out of 
sight of the men who were shooting at us. 

Leaving the motor running, Charlie and I climbed 
the rocks and peeped over the top. The five men were 
standing in plain sight about three hundred and fifty 
yards away, evidently consulting about their next move. 
They knew of course that we would be stuck in the sand. 
Moreover, since we had not fired in return I suppose 
they thought that we had no rifles. Anyway they started 
to climb slowly down the rocks to come across the open 
plain to our car. Something had to be done about it as 
apparently they were bent on murder. 

Charlie selected one fellow who was standing silhou- 
etted against the sky and I lined my sights on another just 
in front of him. I was shooting a Savage 250-3000 with 
soft nose bullets and Charlie had a Ross .280. As our 
rifles crashed both men crumpled. The other three dis- 
appeared like shadows behind the promontory. We 
waited for a time but none of the three showed them- 
selves. Then we scrambled down to the car trying des- 
perately to push it out of the sand. It took more than an 
hour of hard work to get through the canyon, for every 
few minutes we had to climb the rocks to be sure that we 

21 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



were not being stalked by the remaining bandits. I don't 
mind saying that we had the jitters. 

Who those fellows were and why they attacked us I 
could never find out. They were dressed in Mongol 
clothes but that proved nothing. That they were not 
Chinese we felt certain because they shot too well. They 
might have been Russians but I hardly think so. Prob- 
ably Mongols with Russian rifles. 

So much for Asiatic brigands. Let me tell you what I 
have seen of the New York variety. I had returned from 
the Orient in October feeling a little unhappy about the 
prospect of an unexciting winter in America. 

Three days after my arrival, at five o'clock in the after- 
noon, my secretary at that time, Miss A. L. Seeling, left 
The American Museum of Natural History and walked 
west on Seventy-eighth Street toward Amsterdam Avenue. 
The street was almost deserted. Suddenly the door of a 
brownstone house (No. 154 to be exact) was flung open 
and a man staggered down the steps. He was dripping 
blood and carried a pistol in his left hand. A taxi dashed 
by. A feeble gesture brought it to the curb; the wounded 
man muttered something to the driver and then made 
his way painfully back up the steps. A moment later he 
returned with another man, supporting between them 
the sagging body of a young Italian. A dark red stream 
followed across the pavement, spreading into an ugly 
blotch as they lifted him into the car. Miss Seeling had 
seen enough. Weak and sick she signaled a cruising taxi 
to take her home. 

Fifteen minutes later I left the Museum and started 
west on Seventy-eighth Street. A big police truck swung 



DANGER 

around the corner of Amsterdam Avenue, roared east- 
ward and stopped at No. 154. Twenty uniformed officers, 
some of them carrying sawed-off shotguns, piled out. Two 
more trucks with sirens shrieking followed. The street 
was alive with police, all armed with shotguns or pistols. 
Four of them hustled out a wicked-looking machine gun 
and set it up on the opposite side of the street, facing the 
door of No. 154. 

Then the newspaper reporters began to arrive. I saw 
one who had interviewed me only the day before and 
caught him by the shoulder as he ran past. 

"What's it all about?" 

"I don't know yet," said he. "We got word that a de- 
tective had been shot in a gun fight here. I believe there 
are three or four of them and it's likely to be a big show." 

"By Jove! I want to see it," I said. "Can you give me 
a reporter's card?" 

"Sure, you can take mine. I don't need it. The police 
all know me." 

I stuck the card in my hat and we went inside the ring 
of curious spectators up to the big cars. I didn't bother 
my reporter friend with any more questions. He had a 
job of work to do and my ticket to the show got me a 
ringside place. This is just what it was a show! I could 
hardly believe it to be a real story and not a movie as the 
tragedy unfolded. The action was fast and dramatic. A 
second machine gun mounted on the high steps of a 
house above and to the right of the first, pointed its black 
muzzle to the flat roof of No. 154. Beside it a powerful 
searchlight picked out every brick and stone as it played 
along the cornice. A cat could not have moved on the 

23 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



edge without being seen by the grim officer who swung 
the gun back and forth along the beam of light. God help 
the man who tried to escape that way! 

In the street below, a clanging ambulance drove a 
path for itself through the packed line of spectators. Four 
policemen with a big hand searchlight, shotguns and 
pistols crossed the street to the front door of the house. 
I tried to slip in behind them but the rearmost officer 
caught me by the arm. 

"Hey, Buddy, what's the big idea? There's likely to be 
some shooting in there. You get your story from the out- 
side." 

Sheepishly I grinned and backed out. The officers dis- 
appeared. After five or ten minutes, one of them came to 
the door and called the ambulance. The body of a man 
was lifted into the stretcher. I caught a glimpse of his 
white, blood-stained face in the light. It was not a pleas- 
ant sight. 

The four officers who had gone into the house 
emerged through the basement door just as Police Com- 
missioner Mulrooney arrived with six or seven plain- 
clothes men. He went inside with a dozen others. Fifteen 
minutes later two came out leading between them a hat- 
less man in shirt and trousers. They had found him in 
bed in the upper story of an adjoining house. He was still 
protesting his innocence. 

"You haven't got anything on me/' I heard him wail. 
"I was asleep up there, dead asleep. I don't know a thing 
about it, so help me God! So help me God, I don't!" 

Grimly silent, the officers hustled him into the wait- 
ing police car. Then an amusing thing happened. 

24 



DANGER 

Half a dozen newspaper photographers let off flash- 
lights in a blinding glare. You should have seen the 
crowding spectators rush for cover! They thought that 
the shooting had begun again. Stampeding down the 
street like a herd of cattle, they ducked into basements 
and doorways and flattened against the nearest walls. 
From my stand on the steps, I got a bird's-eye view of the 
whole picture. 

By that time I knew pretty well what it was all about. 
It seems that an Italian detective patrolling this district 
had recognized a gunman, Enrico Grieco, who was wanted 
for the murder of a policeman three years ago. He 
trailed the man to No. 154 and telephoned for assistance. 
Two other detectives, both Italians, joined him and the 
three started to search the house. The landlady's loud 
protests at the invasion of her premises warned the killer 
who, with two others and a woman, was in a room on 
the third floor. The gunmen shot through the door, 
badly wounding two of the detectives. The one Miss 
Seeling first saw had six bullets in his arms and body. 
The other, James Pasagno, had five. He died the next 
day. The officers returned their fire, killing the murderer 
and wounding another. The remaining two and the 
woman escaped over the flat roofs of the adjoining houses. 

For an hour the search went on but nothing new 
happened. There were fifty uniformed police, a dozen 
plain-clothes men, two machine guns, five red service 
cars, gas bombs, and Heaven only knows what other 
gear clustered in front of that house. It looked like a 
miniature army. And this almost in the sacred shadow of 
The American Museum of Natural History where I 

25 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



toil and have my being! It was well-nigh incredible. Only 
eighteen days before I had left China with its war and 
bandits. Here in the so-called safety of New York, vir- 
tually at my office door, was more war and worse bandits. 
I must admit that I got a great kick out of it. I had been 
vaguely uneasy about how I was going to stand six months 
in the city with no real excitement. And after only three 
days, I was presented on a silver platter, as it were, with 
this movie drama of New York life. 

The trouble was that I could not get out of my mind 
the brief glimpse I had of that white drawn face on the 
stretcher, or forget those wounded detectives. They were 
brave men, those three. How few among the careless mil- 
lions in New York knew of that sad funeral a few days 
later in the Italian quarter where the dead officer lay in 
a flower-heaped coffin. 

At a quarter past six I left to dress for dinner. Already 
on Amsterdam Avenue, where I got a taxi, newsboys 
were calling "Extras/' describing the gun fight. I bought 
a paper. There it was in half a column. My reporter 
friends had telephoned the story from the corner drug 
store while I had watched the living picture unfold from 
my stand beside the machine gun. Just an hour and fif- 
teen minutes since the first shot was fired! That's New 
Yorkl It takes a foreigner or a wanderer like myself, who 
is accustomed to the unhurried life of the Orient, to ap- 
preciate and marvel at the things they do in this fantastic 
city of ours. 

China, of course, swarms with bandits. But they are 
not the Chicago or New York kind* They don't shoot you 
in the back or pot you from an automobile with a ma- 
a6 




BANDITS HALT THE EXPEDITION S CARS 




READY FOR AN EXPECTED ATTACK BY BANDITS 




O 

00 

I 

a 



6 



DANGER 

chine gun. In the first place, Chinese brigands are still 
somewhat loath to kill a foreigner. They give their vic- 
tims a chance, and if they can get what they want without 
shooting they won't open fire. But from all I can learn 
of our modern city gunman, he has no conscience or 
ethics about killing. He would kill just as soon as not, 
perhaps rather, and to do it in a nasty way when you 
didn't have a chance. 

Chinese bandits annoy us every time we go to the 
Gobi Desert. At Kalgan, where we leave the railroad and 
civilization, half a dozen big camel trails converge. 
Brigands always concentrate in this region to rob the 
caravans carrying opium, furs and other valuable goods. 
Bands of from ten to a thousand infest the trails. They 
don't like to stand up to rifle fire and if one or two of them 
are killed in the first volley the rest run like stags. About 
twenty Chinese bandits to one well-armed foreigner is 
proper odds, as we have found by experience. Of course, 
when we get well out into the desert there are no brigands 
at all, for there is no one to rob and they cannot live off 
the country. A Chinese bandit sounds like a very terrible 
person from the distance of New York, but the closer 
you get to him the less fearsome he becomes. He is in- 
variably the world's worst shot; he can't shoot quickly 
and he dislikes to shoot at all. He is just about the op- 
posite in all things to the American variety. One experi- 
ence I had will demonstrate what I mean. 

Our camp one year was three hundred miles from 
Kalgan and I had to return to China for extra supplies. 
One of the men drove one car and I the other. Mine 
was a couple of miles in advance of his when I came to 

27 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



a deep valley where two Russian cars had been robbed 
only a week earlier. We had heard of it for the bandits 
had taken twenty thousand dollars' worth of sable skins 
and killed one man. The other had been stripped abso- 
lutely naked and left to find his way to Kalgan in his 
birthday suit. 

Just before I reached the spot I thought, "I wonder 
if there is any chance of my being held up there. Light- 
ning doesn't strike twice in the same place but brigands 
might." 

A moment later I saw the head and shoulders of a 
man on horseback just appearing over the summit of 
the hill three hundred yards away. The sun glinted on 
a rifle barrel. Now there are just two kinds of men who 
carry rifles in Chinabandits and soldiersand the two 
are synonymous. Anyway I had no mind to have him 
there whoever he was. I dropped a bullet from my .38 
revolver too close for comfort even though there was no 
attempt to hit him. He disappeared abruptly. Just then 
my car swept over the edge of the valley and started down 
the steep slope. In the bottom two hundred yards away 
were four horsemen, rifles on their backs. I knew in- 
stantly that they were bandits and that I was in for it. 
The trail was narrow and rocky and I couldn't turn. Also 
I knew that a Mongol pony never would stand against 
the charge of a motor car. Opening the cut-out I stepped 
on the accelerator and the car rushed down the hill at 
forty miles an hour, roaring like an aeroplane. The 
ponies went mad with fright. At first the brigands vainly 
tried to get the rifles off their backs, but in a moment 
their chief concern was to stay in their saddles. The 
28 



DANGER 

ponies were rearing and plunging madly and three of 
them raced off across the plains. The fourth seemed too 
frightened to run. 

I was right beside him and I'll never forget the look 
of abject terror on the face of that Chinese bandit. My 
revolver was in my right hand and of course I could have 
killed him easily but there was no use in doing that. 
He had on a peaked Mongol hat and I fired at it five or 
six times trying to knock it off his head. Finally his pony 
started after the others with me behind in the car yelling 
and shooting. We reached the rim of the valley and I let 
him go then. All four of them had the fright of their 
lives and I had had a lot of fun. When I reported the 
incident to the commander of a detachment of Chinese 
soldiers fifty miles farther on, he was furious because I 
hadn't killed at least one of the bandits. I told him, how- 
ever, that I was a peaceable explorer and that it was his 
business to kill brigands, not mine. 

In 1928, I was present at the annual dinner of the 
Wilderness Club at the Racquet Club in Philadelphia. 
I was to take the midnight train to San Francisco, to sail 
for China. On one side of me sat Colonel Theodore 
Roosevelt and next to him Dr. George Gordon, Director 
of the University Museum. As I left the table I shook 
hands with Ted and Gordon. 

"Take care of yourself. We don't want you to be 
killed over there in China," said Gordon. 

"I'll be all right," I laughed. "It is you fellows in the 
city who ought to worry." 

What a tragic prophecy! Ten minutes later Dr. 
Gordon was dead. He left the table just behind me, got 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



his coat at the check room, slipped on the marble floor 
and fractured his skull. 

Think also of disease; cities versus country. The more 
people the more germs. No one can deny that. In the 
Arctic and Antarctic and in the desert, disease germs 
hardly exist. During all the years of my own expeditions 
in the Gobi we never had a case of serious illness. 

In 1928, 1 got a bullet in the leg. For five days all the 
dressings had to be done in sandstorms. Dust simply 
couldn't be kept out of the eighteen-inch bullet wound, 
yet it healed perfectly with no trace of infection. Under 
similar conditions in a city, I should probably have died. 

On Admiral Peary's last and successful attempt to 
reach the North Pole only once did any of the men have 
a cold. That was when they opened a case of books on 
the ship during the long Arctic night. Evidently it had 
been packed by some one who had a head cold. That 
some one probably sneezed over it a few times and de- 
posited the germs as an additional present for the ex- 
plorers. Every mother's son of them on the Roosevelt got 
it, too. 

One of the narrowest escapes from death that I ever 
had actually occurred in my office at The American Mu- 
seum of Natural History. I was sitting at my desk when 
the telephone rang. While speaking into the instrument 
I tipped back in the swivel chair and crashed to the floor. 
The screws had broken and the seat of the chair sepa- 
rated from the frame. I landed on the side of my head 
and the doctor said that it was the closest call to a broken 
neck that he had ever seen. If one of the vertebrae had 

30 



DANGER 

slipped the smallest fraction of an inch farther I would 
now be pushing clouds. 

Of course bathtub accidents have become a subject 
for the funny papers. Everybody has one sooner or later. 
But often they end in tragedy. In 1923, one of my most 
intimate friends, Clark by name, a man whom I had 
lived with for two years, was killed in his own tub. He 
slipped, fell violently against the faucet, and ruptured 
some of his internal organs. We hear about the bathtub 
accidents because they have elements of the unusual. But 
being hit by an automobile is neither funny nor unusual. 
Therefore thousands of such deaths go unchronicled in 
the news columns. 

When I arrived in New York one year after a long 
absence in the Orient, I was positively frightened. The 
life of our city had so changed in its attempts to evade 
prohibition and to give lucrative employment to its 
thousands of gunmen that I felt like a lamb among 
wolves. I was told that I must not do this or that or 
the other thing, else dire consequences might ensue. One 
day I was taken to a "speakeasy" for dinner. It was my 
first speakeasy and I was as thrilled as a country cousin. 
I felt terribly naughty and excited at breaking the law 
in such a delightful way. And then they told me of what 
had happened to a mutual friend at one of the other thirty 
thousand speakeasies in New York City. How his liquor 
was drugged and how he waked up in a room with four 
gorilla-faced gentlemen as companions. They suggested 
that he sign a check for three thousand dollars which 
they said was the value of certain furniture and fixtures 
destroyed by him while under the influence of bootleg 

31 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



gin. The four anthropoids were willing, nay anxious, 
to swear that he had ruined much more property than 
three thousand dollars would purchase but they con- 
siderately let him off at that. He did sign and promptly 
stopped payment on the check, whereupon the gorillas 
appeared openly at his office accompanied by a lawyer 
of very dubious reputation, threatening legal action and 
other dire consequences if the check were not paid. 

This was only one of similar stories with which I was 
regaled. By the time dinner ended, I felt so small and 
frightened that I wanted to take the first ship back to 
the Orient where I could be comparatively safe in Mon- 
golia. Then we left the speakeasy. Taxis stood invitingly 
at the door. Do you think my sophisticated friends would 
so much as look at one of them? Oh, no. They were 
especially to be avoided. You might be taken for a ride 
in the Park where the driver had friends waiting to 
relieve you of your valuables. 

In the winter of 1933-34 I had an amusing experi- 
ence with a burglar in New York. I suppose it might 
be called a real adventure. I had a penthouse on the 
top of the Hotel des Artistes. Wallace Morgan and Pat 
Enright, the famous illustrators, share an apartment just 
below and a ladder leads up the wall from their terrace 
to a tiny balcony opening out of my bedroom. I slept 
on a studio bed about six feet from the French windows 
of the balcony. 

Many years in the field have made me very sensitive 
to any unusual noise or to the presence of any one in 
my room. It was five o'clock in the morning just before 
dawn and I was in a sound sleep. Suddenly I raised up 



DANGER 

on my right elbow wide awake. There crouched a man 
beside the head of the bed, his face about eighteen inches 
from mine. He was a regular stage burglar; a soft cap 
pulled far down over his eyes, and a short coat tightly 
buttoned. 

There he sat looking at me, evidently waiting to see 
if I were asleep before he began to prowl. For an instant 
I thought that I was dreaming. Then I realized that it 
was a man and a wave of indignation swept over me. 
The idea of a man sitting in my bedroom made me 
absolutely see red. 

"You ," I yelled, and jumped at him. 

Apparently that was the proper way to talk to burglars, 
for he leaped backward and made for the balcony over 
which he had come. 

My feet were tangled in the sheets and I landed on 
the floor on all fours. The burglar was over the balcony 
rail except for one leg when I caught his trousers with 
my left hand, half on the floor myself. He kicked like a 
mule. The first kick landed on my chest; the next got 
me full in the face. He tore loose and ran down the wall 
ladder like a monkey, and into the house. 

I phoned the operator at the front entrance and he 
sent in a call to the West Sixty-eighth Street police station. 
In five minutes seven policemen were at the door. The 
burglar must still have been" in the house as he could 
not possibly have run down twenty stories to the base- 
ment where he had entered, in that space of time. 

To my amazement all seven of the officers piled into 
the elevator and out upon Wallace Morgan's roof. 

"What are you doing up here?" I asked. 

33 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



"Looking for your burglar." 

"Hell, I just chased him away. He is in the house. 
Did you leave any one in the basement?'* 

"No/' 

And then they proceeded to search the building from 
the top down! Naturally my burglar simply ran ahead 
of them and out through the fire door in the basement, 
which was the way he had entered.* It was gray dawn 
but the man's silhouette against the sky made me feel 
sure that he was an Oriental. I have lived in the Far 
East so long that I couldn't be mistaken about that. 

The next morning I had an interesting talk with 
a detective from Headquarters. I remarked upon the 
agility with which the burglar ran down the wall ladder. 
A monkey couldn't have done it faster. 

"These cat burglars spend hours every day in gym- 
nasiums," said he. "They keep themselves very fit and 
practice running up and down ladders and jumping from 
one ledge to another." 

"Do you suppose," said I, "that he had a gun?" 

"Probably not. Blackjacks are more in their line. It 
was lucky that you waked up suddenly and jumped at 
him. It was the one thing he wasn't expecting. If you had 
roused slowly he'd have knocked you on the head and 
put you to sleep for awhile." 

I really think what frightened the burglar was the 
volume of curses which I spouted at him. As I remember, 
I did some very artistic swearing. They were so effective 
that I have thought up a new supply for the next gentle- 
man of the profession who comes into my bedroom 
uninvited. 

O A 



DANGER 

To recapitulate: I honestly believe that the average 
modern explorer is in less danger, by long odds, in the 
desert, or the Arctic or the jungle, than is the inhabitant 
of almost any of America's great cities. My contention 
is that the city dweller is so accustomed to the continual 
dangers which beset him on all sides every day that 
they have become a part of his life He doesn't even 
think about them. Whereas, the dangers which an ex- 
plorer meets are so unusual and interesting just because 
they are different that they seem to be greater. 

Of course if an explorer does not study his problem 
and prepare properly before he goes into the field, some- 
thing is bound to happen. He can find plenty of danger 
if he is searching for it. So could you if you did not 
look in both directions when you cross a city street. 

I am a fatalist now. I believe that when my time 
comes I'll go and I don't spend any time worrying about 
it. As for danger, one shotftd recall what Mark Twain 
said: 

"Beds are the most dangerous places in the world 
because so many people die in them/' 



35 



CHAPTER III 



Snakes 

TO MEET the popular conception of an explorer a man 
must have suffered cold, heat, starvation, fever, attacks 
from wild animals and savage natives and must have been 
bitten by snakes. Snakes are essential. If you haven't had 
snakes real ones you just can't be a proper explorer. 
I suppose it is because for many people snakes have a 
horrible fascination. I've had friends visit me at the 
Museum who said that they loathed and detested snakes. 
Yet they wanted first to see the reptile exhibit. Often 
before a lecture I have received letters from both men 
and women who asked if I was to show any snake pic- 
tures. If so they couldn't come because snakes made 
them hysterical. 

But it isn't so for every one. I used to know a woman 
in The American Museum of Natural History who loved 
snakes. Sometimes she would stroll into my office with 
a whacking great serpent coiled around her waist and 
the darned thing's head tucked affectionately under her 
chin. Needless to say she wasn't married. Perhaps she 
might have been if it hadn't been for her snake habit, 
for she wasn't bad looking and was undeniably brilliant. 
But what man would care to come home at night to 
find a snake roosting comfortably in the middle of the 
other twin bed! Doubtless that is where it would have 



SNAKES 

been too, for the people with a snake complex don't 
seem able to understand the aversion that the other 
ninety-nine and ninety-nine one hundredth per cent o 
the human race have for their pets. 

I have heard that reptiles were canned for food and 
I knew one man personally who professed to enjoy rat- 
tlesnake to eat said it tasted "just like chicken." Funny 
how animals like monkeys for instance which no one 
else likes to eat always taste "just like chicken." Anyway 
I've eaten plenty of chicken what man who has lived 
in China hasn't and I've also eaten monkeys and my 
monkeys didn't taste like chicken. Far from it! I ate 
them because I was so hungry that I'd have eaten any- 
thingexcept snake. 

I remember that when the late President Theodore 
Roosevelt came back from his expedition to the "River 
of Doubt" where his party nearly starved to death, I was 
lunching with him at Oyster Bay. Senator Beveridge 
asked him how he liked monkeys to eat. 

"Well," said the Colonel, "you could lock me up 
in the monkey cage at the zoo with no danger to the 
inmates." He didn't think they tasted like chicken either. 

Speaking of Colonel Roosevelt, the late Carl Akeley, 
African explorer, told me an amusing story about a 
dinner at the White House. The President had been 
having a good deal of trouble with Congress just at" that 
time. Congressman Mann was sitting at his left. Akeley 
was relating an experience in Africa when he saw four- 
teen lions come out of a cave. The President turned to 
Congressman Mann and said: 

37 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



"I'd like to have those lions here in Washington/' 

"What would you do with them, Mr. President?" 

"I'd turn them loose on Congress." 

"But wouldn't you be afraid that they'd make a few 
mistakes?" 

"Not if they stayed long enough/' laughed the 
Colonel. 

But to return to snakes personally I dislike reptiles 
intensely. I don't know why, but I just do. My dislike 
isn't fear. It is an instinctive loathing. I have had to 
collect hundreds of reptiles during my explorations and 
I can handle them, if I have to, without going into 
hysterics or anything of that sort. I can inject them 
or take out their insides or skin them but I can think 
of about a million things that I would rather do. I have 
tried to remember when I began to dislike snakes so 
actively because I am interested in almost all other living 
things, and I am sure it dates from the time when I was 
about fourteen years old. 

I was shooting along the banks of the Rock River in 
Wisconsin and spent the night in the open. After my 
dinner of bacon and bread I curled up to sleep with 
my head on a coat at the root of a great tree. During the 
night I felt something wriggling in my hair and sleepily 
put up my hand. A cold body curled about my wrist 
and bare arm. You could have heard me yell for at least 
seven miles and I leaped up shaking with fright. It was 
only a garter snake but if it had been a rattler I couldn't 
have been more scared. I didn't get over it for weeks. 
I used to have snake dreams even though I had never 



SNAKES 

even smelled the cork o a whisky bottle at that tender 
age. 

Snakes don't get on my nerves to that extent now 
but I'm still pretty jumpy when I know they are about, 
One year in the Gobi Desert the Central Asiatic Expe- 
dition was actually driven away from a most productive 
fossil field by a plague of poisonous vipers. That wasn't 
just a case of nerves we had a jolly good reason for 
leaving. If you had killed forty-seven snakes in your tents 
in the course of a couple of nights, I think you'd leave 
too unless you were like my "girl-friend" who doted on 
them. She would probably have enjoyed herself so much 
that she'd be there yet. That year our camp was pitched 
on a high promontory which jutted out into the desert 
like the prow of an enormous ship. On the very end 
was a great pile of rocks, a religious monument which 
the Mongols call an obo built to the spirits of nature. 

There was a temple about four miles away on the 
basin floor and a few hours after our tents were up 
three or four lama priests rode over to call. They politely 
asked if we would please not kill anything there because 
it was very sacred ground. Of course I promised, not 
thinking of snakes, and they departed happily. Fossils 
were abundant all along the sides of the promontory 
and each man had located a valuable specimen within 
a few hours. Also each man reported vipers when we 
gathered for dinner in the mess tent that night. Some 
had killed four or five, others only two or three, but all 
had seen snakes. 

So far as I am aware, there is only one poisonous 
reptile in the Gobi. The desert is too dry and the climate 

39 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



too cold. This one is a pit viper, about the size and shape 
of our copperhead. He is pretty bad medicine too. I don't 
know whether or not he contains enough poison to kill 
a healthy man, but a good bite would make even Jack 
Dempsey pretty sick. 

We got along well enough for a few days but one 
night the temperature suddenly dropped almost to the 
freezing point. The vipers evidently didn't like it and 
made tracks for our camp to get warm. What snake in- 
stinct told them that our tents were there and that in 
them they could find warmth and shelter I can't imagine. 
Be that as it may, they wriggled their fat loathsome 
bodies out of the rocks, up the sides of the promontory 
and into our camp. They came not in twos or threes 
but in dozens. The first we knew of it was from Norman 
Lovell, one of our motor engineers. It was a clear bril- 
liant night and he waked about two in the morning just 
in time to see a huge serpent wriggling across the patch 
of moonlight in his tent door. Lovell had no mind to 
share his house with a viper even though it was merely 
trying to get warm, and reached for his flash lamp to 
find his shoes. Before getting up he thought that it 
might be well to have a look about. Sure enough, coiled 
on both legs of his cot bed were two other snakes. He 
got his small collector's pickax, gently untangled them 
and cut off their heads. With his shoes on, he began 
a still hunt for the original visitor. Just as he stepped 
on the ground the grandfather of all vipers crawled out 
from a gasoline box at the head of his bed. 

Meanwhile sounds of dismay were issuing from the 
abode of Fred Morris, one of our geologists. 
4.0 



SNAKES 

"Dear God, my tent is full of snakes/' I heard him 
moan. "There are hundreds of them/' 

From Mac Young came a volley of curses. "You yel- 
low b d, get out of my shoe!" 

Mac had waked just in time to see a viper crawling 
into one of his boots. The whole camp was astir and 
every one was having a lively time. One of the Chinese 
chauffeurs found a snake coiled in his cap. Another was 
actually in the cook's bed. Not only were there dozens 
of them in camp but more were coming up over the edge 
of the escarpment. 

True to their religion the Mongols wouldn't kill one 
of the snakes on the promontory. They contented them- 
selves with shooing them out of their tents and calling 
to one of us to do the dirty work. They weren't taking 
any chances with the Mongol gods as long as a heathen 
foreigner was on the spot to accept their responsibilities. 

I had put on only tennis slippers, for my leather shoes 
were at the bottom of a duffle sack. With a flash lamp 
in one hand and a pickax in the other I stepped out of 
the tent door onto something round and hard. I must 
have jumped three feet straight up and what I yelled 
made blue sparks in the air. But it was only a piece of 
half inch rope! A moment later Walter Granger made 
a vicious lunge at a pipe cleaner! 

All of us had the jitters. There was no more sleep 
that night and daylight found us making a complete 
overhaul of everything in our tents. Snakes were every- 
wherein gun cases, in duffle bags, under blankets. For- 
tunately, however, they were chilled and consequently 
sluggish. None of us was bitten but we certainly wouldn't 

41 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



have escaped if we had waited until the sun had warmed 
the tents. Wolf, my police dog, was the single casualty, 
but he was struck by such a small snake that he escaped 
with only a few hours of sickness. 

We remained there two more days but the supply 
of snakes was inexhaustible. After we had killed forty- 
seveti it seemed like a sound idea to clear out. No one 
could sleep in peace and it was inevitable that some one 
would be bitten eventually. So we struck the tents one 
bright September morning and our cars roared down 
the hill leaving Viper Camp to the snakes and vultures. 

During all the time that I was in Borneo and the East 
Indies I met but very few snakes. The reason of course 
is because the jungle is so dense that you just don't see 
them. They are there all right but they don't advertise 
themselves. I always had the uncomfortable feeling that 
I might sit on one, for some of them are so protectively 
colored that they are almost invisible. Particularly was 
I nervous after an experience I had with a huge python 
which might easily have cost me my life. 

I was walking up a game trail in the dense jungle 
with my Filipino boy just behind me. His name was 
Miranda. Suddenly he grabbed me by the shoulder and 
jerked me violently backward. 

"What the devil," I began. 

"A snake, Master a big snake. There right in front 
of you on that tree. You shoot him quick!" 

He pointed to a branch overhanging the game trail 
only a few yards away. I couldn't see anything. Miranda 

42 



SNAKES 

kept pointing to the tree in front of me, hopping up and 
down with excitement. 

"There, Master can't you see it a big, big snake/' 

No, I couldn't see it. Suddenly a breeze stirred the 
palm leaves and a spot of sunlight drifted over the 
branch where Miranda was pointing. Then I saw. There 
lay a huge, ugly flat head and a black glittering eye. 
Following back from the head what I thought was a 
tree branch developed into the snake's body. There 
seemed to be yards and yards and yards of it, losing 
itself in the thickness of the tangled vines. I backed away 
thirty or forty feet and lined my sights on that glittering 
eye. At the crash of the rifle, a typhoon seemed to have 
been let loose in the jungle. I turned and ran, watching 
from a safe distance. The writhing coils of the gigantic 
serpent broke trees like pipe stems, sweeping away in 
slashing blows everything within a dozen yards. 

Half an hour passed before the reptile was still. There 
in the jungle cleared by its own death struggles lay the 
snake, its body half as thick as my own. I thrust a stick 
between one of the coils and even though life was gone 
they tightened like a vise. Miranda and I straightened 
out the great reptile and paced its length. It measured 
twenty feet. 

As I looked down at it I thought what an unpleasant 
death I might have had except for Miranda's sharp eyes. 
It was lying there alert but motionless, waiting for what- 
ever living thing moved along the trail. A wild pig, a 
deer or myself anything that passed under the branch 
would have been swept into those terrible coils and 
crushed to death. 

45 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



That experience did not enhance my love of snakes. 
Neither did another which I had in a dak bungalow in 
Burma, It had been weeks since the last traveler had 
stayed there, and when it was opened, I told the native 
caretaker to make a thorough search for snakes. A good 
thought it was too, for in the bathroom behind the tin 
tub a cobra was placidly waiting for rats or what else 
might chance to pass his way. He wasn't a very big cobra 
but quite large enough to have sent me to the Happy 
Hunting Grounds if he had taken a nip at my bare leg. 
A cobra is particularly bad medicine for he doesn't just 
strike and pull away like most other respectable snakes. 
He sinks his fangs and hangs on, letting the poison drain 
into the wound till the last drop. The fact that the cobra 
is such a big snake and consequently has so much poison 
accounts for the fact that the chance of recovery from 
an honest-to-goodness bite is pretty small. 

My last snake story is about a ship and a quarter- 
master. The ship was the United States deep sea ex- 
ploring vessel, the Albatross, and the quartermaster was 
a Swede by the name of Larson. Larson was a fine sailor- 
man but he would get drunk. He had been on the Alba- 
tross for twenty-five years ever since the day that she 
was launched. I remember how when a blow was coming 
on, he used to walk about the vessel seeing that every- 
thing was tight, saying: 

"Now we are at peace. Now we are at peace." 
God knows I didn't feel much at peace at those times 
I was too seasick! We had been at sea for some weeks 
when one morning Larson turned up drunk as an owl. 

44 



SNAKES 

He had a great bearded face, which, when he was drunk, 
looked just like that of an amiable orang-utan. There 
were a lot of young boys on the ship who had enlisted 
in the navy to see the world. Larson would select one 
of these kids, thlrust his great face within an inch of the 
boy's nose and with a horrible grimace say "boo." He 
would roar with laughter when the kid nearly went over 
backward. 

The first morning that Larson reported for duty 
drunk, the captain ordered him to the brig until he 
sobered up. But only a few days later Larson was drunk 
again. This happened half a dozen times and even the 
crew became very curious to know where he got his stuff. 
The ship was searched but it remained a mystery until 
I solved it by chance. 

While we were in the East Indies I had collected 
several five-gallon jars of snakes and lizards, which were 
preserved in alcohol. These were in the storage room 
below the laboratory. Every few weeks I looked them 
over to renew the alcohol which would become diluted 
by the blood and fluids of the animals' bodies. I dis- 
covered that the jars were almost dry and that this was 
the source of Larson's jags. 

The old fellow had reached the point where he just 
had to have something to drink and the snakes and 
lizards offered the only solution. He confessed to me 
afterward that it did taste pretty awful but that the effect 
was swell. 



45 



CHAPTER IV 



Random Reminiscences of Animals 

I OUGHT to have had many narrow escapes from wild 
animals. The trouble is that they really are wild and they 
want to be let alone. Unless one is wounded or cornered 
or has babies, even the most dangerous animals will 
usually run at the sight of a man or the sound of a human 
voice. 

I have shot literally thousands of animals. It has been 
a part of my job as a scientific explorer for a great mu- 
seum that must have specimens for study and exhibi- 
tion. Yet only one unwounded animal ever deliberately 
charged me. That was a wild boar in Korea when the 
beast was driven out of cover by beaters. He came for 
me through the tall grass with foam-flecked jaws, his little 
eyes flaming red. I dropped him only a few feet from 
the end of my rifle. 

Of course dozens of my sportsman friends have had 
narrow escapes from charging animals but it was only 
because they picked a fight. All the wild cattle anywhere 
in the world are dangerous. They may come for you on 
sight. Lions seldom will, or tigers either. Elephants are 
an uncertain quantity and so are leopards. 

My most interesting tiger experience I have told be- 
fore. Still I think it will bear repeating, for it shows 
how even a man-eater will prefer to clear out before a 

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RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

human even though he be comfortably settled in his lair. 

It was when I was in Korea, and the tiger was the 
Manchurian variety. In length he really isn't larger than 
the Indian species, but the inch-long hair makes him 
look a lot bigger. Since a good part of his life is spent 
in the snow, he is much lighter colored than the one 
in the south. There aren't many white men who have 
killed either the Manchurian or Siberian tiger. There 
was just one individual in that particular region of north- 
ern Korea or at least one that we knew about. He was 
a big fellow a man-eaterand the natives were terrified 
whenever he made one of his visitations. 

His habit was to go from village to village on a cer- 
tain beat, picking up pigs, chickens, dogs, and now and 
then a child. It may be true that once a tiger tastes 
human flesh he likes it so much that he refuses all other 
nourishment, but I doubt it. Anyway, it isn't true of 
the Chinese tigers nor was it of my friend up there in 
Korea. He much preferred a mangy dog to a fat Korean 
child. I was told by a reformed cannibal on an island 
off the coast of New Guinea with whom I had a heart- 
to-heart talk about the flavors of various members of 
the human family that white men tasted much too salty 
that he infinitely preferred natives who didn't have 
such a strong saline flavor. Perhaps my tiger felt the 
same way about it. Be that as it may, he had killed lots 
of dogs and pigs and a few children. I was keen to rid 
the community of the big cat, but apparently he did not 
share my enthusiasm to effect his early demise. He never 
stayed long enough in any one place for me to catch 
up with him. A breathless native would arrive at my 

47 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



camp saying that the tiger had been seen at his village 
twenty miles away. In fifteen minutes I'd be gone with 
my hunter Paik sontair. Paik was a fine old Korean who 
had killed three tigers with his flint-lock gun. He had 
been given the title of sontair, which was equivalent to 
a knighthood. We would arrive at the village where our 
tiger had last been seen, only to draw a blank. In a day 
or two news would come that he had appeared some- 
where else. 

We tried all sorts of ways to achieve a personal ac- 
quaintance. Sometimes we cut across his line of march, 
hoping to be there when he arrived. Then he'd double 
back on his trail and appear again at the village which 
we had just left. I tried just waiting sitting in one place 
until he came. Nothing doing! My shoes were worn thin 
from traveling, my patience was exhausted and I had just 
about decided that he really was the Great Invisible. 
Then one day a native arrived in camp saying that he 
had seen the tiger go into a cave near the top of a moun- 
tain only a few miles away. Paik and I were there in 
less than an hour. In the dust at the entrance to a black 
hole in the rock we saw the fresh pug marks. All led in 
and none came out. We were sure we had him that time. 

We concealed ourselves in a clump of bushes a few 
feet from the cave mouth and sat down to wait. I was 
tense with excitement but my taut nerves began to relax 
as hour after hour passed and nothing happened. The 
sun went down and it grew dark. Still there was star- 
light and the tiger couldn't get out of that cave unseen. 

It was a long night and in the first gray light of 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

dawn we examined the dirt at the cave mouth. No new 
tracks. 

"If he won't come out, we'll go in and get him/' 
announced Paik in the most matter-of-fact voice. Just 
like that! "We'll go in and get him/' 

I hadn't lost any tigers in that cave. Besides I needed 
food; my tummy was awfully empty. I had been up all 
night I was tired and most of all I was scared green 
at the thought of crawling into that cave with the tiger 
sitting there comfortably ready to receive us. 

When Paik said, "Are you going?" I gave him an 
evasive answer. More explicitly, I told him to go to hell. 

He stared. "You've got a light," said he. "The tiger 
won't charge the fire. He'll be frightened." 

Well, I was frightened too awfully frightened. 

"Besides, I'll be right behind you with my spear," 
announced Paik as though that made everything all right. 
(I forgot to say that Paik carried a spear but no gun.) 

I gave him a still more evasive answer. Then he lost 
all patience. 

"If you are afraid, let me take your rifle and I'll go 
in," he said, and the look he gave me told just what he 
thought about white men who pretended they wanted 
to kill a tiger. 

That was a bit too much. To have that old native 
calmly tell me that he'd do it alone if I were afraid 
brought forth all the fighting spirit of my ancestors. I 
thought of George Washington and I knew he'd have 
walked right into that tiger's cave with his little hatchet. 
He wouldn't even have hesitated, and here I was with a 
high power rifle refusing to budge. 

49 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



I said to Paik, "Let's go." 

We had to crawl on hands and knees, for the cave 
was less than shoulder-high. I went first, rifle in one 
hand, electric flash in the other. Paik followed with spear 
advanced. As a matter of fact, it was advanced so much 
that it kept pricking me in the rear end to my intense 
annoyance. I wouldn't swear that he did it on purpose, 
but I suspect him strongly. 

About twenty feet from the entrance there was a 
small chamber. A sickening smell of rotting meat almost 
suffocated me, but no tiger. We could see that the pas- 
sage turned sharply to the left. I felt morally certain 
that that infernal tiger was waiting just there ready to 
reach out and claw me when I turned the corner. Paik 
seemed to know that I had lost my nerve and gave a few 
extra prods with his spear. With my flash-light stuck way 
out in front, I slowly edged around the rock. Thank 
God, no tiger. The passage led on, dipping slightly down- 
ward. In the distance I saw the faint gray of daylight 
and knew that the tiger wasn't there. 

We emerged on the other side of the peak in a deep 
gorge filled with huge boulders which concealed the 
mouth of the cave. Pug marks plainly showed in the soft 
sand. They were leading outward. The natives of the 
village did not know that there was an exit to the passage 
for they had such fear of tigers that no one would go 
near that part of the mountain. Our animal evidently had 
scented us at some time during the long hours that we 
were watching the entrance of the cave and had quietly 
slipped out the back door. We heard of him again next 
day at a village twenty miles to the south. 

50 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

In America I suppose that the grizzly bear is our most 
dangerous animal. I've never had any personal experi- 
ence with them for I've done but little shooting in the 
United States. But some years ago I hunted Alaskan 
brown bears on Kodiak Island. These are the largest liv- 
ing carnivores. A big one will weigh nearly fifteen hun- 
dred pounds. In the spring when they have just emerged 
from their long winter sleep they are hungry and pretty 
nasty customers to meet on your evening walk. There 
isn't much for them to eat except roots. A guide told me 
that he had seen a bear in the spring rear up on his hind 
legs and strike and slash at a tree just out of ill nature. 
He will come for a man at sight then. There are plenty 
of well authenticated instances of men being killed or 
badly mauled by these huge beasts, though as a rule a 
bear isn't a very dangerous animal. 

In the autumn, when the Kodiak bears are rolling in 
fat preparatory to their long hibernation, they are too 
lazy to attack unless really cornered or provoked. They 
much prefer to amble away, though they aren't going to 
rush off and be undignified about it. 

I was on Kodiak Island when the salmon were run- 
ning. Some of the streams were so choked that the fish 
could hardly move. It was just like the proverbial sardine 
tin. These salmon work their way up the rivers as far as 
they can, lay their eggs and then die. Literally millions 
of them come in from the sea and it is a time of feasting 
for the bears, who love fish. 

I was following up a wide stream bed. At that time 
the water was running in a channel on one side, but in 
previous years it had followed other courses. Just in front 

51 



THIS BUSINESS or EXPLORING 



of me was an old log jam a chaotic mass of trees and 
branches lodged there when the river was in flood. Pick- 
ing my way carefully up the jam I had almost reached 
the top when I saw another jam about a hundred yards 
away. Just then the head and neck of a bear appeared 
above the rampart. An enormous head it was too per- 
fectly huge. I was shooting my old 6.5 mm. Mannlicher 
and lined the sights on that great neck. I thought the 
little bullet would smash the cervical vertebrae and there 
would be no more argument with that bear. At the crash 
of the rifle the head disappeared. Just as I threw in an- 
other shell the head bobbed up again twenty feet away. 

"What the devil is the matter with me?" I thought. 
"I couldn't have missed at that range." 

The second time I rested my rifle against an upright 
stub and held just under the great muzzle. When I fired 
down went the head. 

Throwing in another shell I climbed to the top of 
the jam. There, by Jove, was my bear running away. I 
took a quick shot and the beast dropped. Up again but at 
the second shot it was down for good. When I reached 
the bear I found it to be an enormous female, very fat. 
I looked her over and discovered that the first bullet had 
gone through the lungs; the other had' smashed the back. 

I was curious to know if I had hit her with the first 
two shots. Not a sign of a bullet anywhere in the neck 
however. I straightened up wondering how I was going 
to skin the huge beast, and looked about. To my intense 
surprise there lay a second bear at the foot of the log 
jam and twenty feet away still another. 

It was a mother with two full grown cubs nearly as 

58 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

large as herself. My first two shots had been absolute 
bull's eyes. In both cases the neck vertebrae were smashed 
to pulp and the bears had died instantly. Later I 
wounded another bear which got into a thick jungle of 
alders. I wanted to follow up the trail where we had to 
go mostly on hands and knees, but the guide would have 
none of it. He said that these animals when wounded 
have a habit of lying down in the alders and charging out 
like a hurricane. He told me of three instances of hunters 
being killed in this way. 

I suppose that the narrowest escape I ever had from 
being killed by an animal was during my early days of 
whale hunting. Whaling as conducted from the little 
modern steamers doesn't begin to have the danger of the 
old deep-sea method when the animals were harpooned 
from small boats. Still, there is plenty of excitement al- 
ways, and now and then one has a real adventure. 

One bright summer's day while hunting whales off 
the coast of Japan we got fast to a big finback seventy 
feet long. The harpoon struck him between the shoulders 
and as the bomb didn't explode he was virtually unin- 
jured. Dashing off like a hooked trout, he took out rope 
so fast that the brakes on the winch were smoking. Cable 
after cable was spliced together and before his rush could 
be checked he had out nearly a mile of line. Then the 
brakes were set and he towed the ship forward with 
engines going full speed astern. After an hour of this 
even his great strength began to fail. The rope was 
slowly reeled in but we could never get closer than about 
half a mile. Then a wild dash would take him off again 

53 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



in a smother of foam. The fight dragged for six hours. 
''He'll keep us fast all night/' said the Captain. "I'm 
fed up with this. Ill send a boat out and lance him." 

"Let me go," I asked. "I want to get some close-up 
photographs. Ill pull one of the oars/' 
"All right. Youll take the praam." 
A praam is a Norwegian boat big enough for three 
or four men which sits deep at the stern and can be 
spun around almost like a top. 

The mate took a long slender lance. A seaman and 
myself were at the oars. 

The whale lay at the surface nearly a mile away, now 
and then blowing lazily. As the tiny boat slipped up from 
behind, the body loomed bigger and bigger to my ex- 
cited eyes until it seemed like a half-submerged sub- 
marine. Standing in the stern with lance poised, the mate 
steered us up right beside the whale. 
"Way enough/' he whispered. 

Swinging the praam about, we backed up till the boat 
actually touched the gray body. Bracing himself he 
plunged the slender steel deep into the animal's lungs. 
As his arm went down we gave a great heave on 
the oars. My right oar snapped short off and the praam 
swung directly against the whale. Up went the great 
body. I saw the tail, twenty feet across, weighing more 
than a ton, waving just above my head. It appeared to 
hang in mid-air and then to be coming down right on 
me. Never will I forget that second it seemed hours 
long. The tip of the fluke missed me by six inches but 
the side of the boat was smashed like paper. 

54 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

I was in the water with the other two men swimming 
for the floating wreckage. We caught hold of the stove 
boat and looked around. The whale lay at the surface 
a few fathoms away, blood welling out of the blow holes. 
We could hear the rattling of the winch as it wound in 
the rope while the ship crept nearer. 

Suddenly I felt something bump my foot. It was a 
huge shark. The water was alive with flashing white 
bellies and great sharp fins. I was yelling like mad and 
absolutely sick with fright. The other two men joined 
the chorus. They were as scared as L Wrenching off 
pieces of wood from the broken side of the boat, each 
of us hung on with one hand, beating the water with 
the other. But the sharks weren't interested in us. They 
swarmed like flies about the dying whale, drawn by the 
blood pouring out of its nostrils. 

The ship came alongside us and the Captain shouted, 
"Hang on a little longer. I want to kill this whale before 
I lower a boat." 

With that he calmly left us and went over to the 
dying finback. We yelled and cursed while the whale 
was drawn up under the bow and lanced. The Captain 
only grinned. When we were on deck again I walked 
up to him as mad as a hornet. 

"What the devil did you mean by leaving us there 
among the sharks while you killed that damned whale?" 

"Well, you were all right, weren't you? The water 
is warm, you had a nice boat to hang onto and as for 
those sharksshucks, they aren't man-eaters/' 

There's just no use arguing with a man like that. 

55 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Of all the whales I studied the killer whale and the 
California gray whale or devilfish were the most inter- 
esting. The latter was particularly so because for forty 
years it had been supposed to be extinct. I rediscovered 
it off the coast of Korea. 

Devilfish, they are called, because they fight like the 
devil when harpooned, but all the fight goes out of them 
when the killer whales arrive. Those babies, armed with 
a double row of teeth, literally devour the devilfish alive 
in spite of the fact that the devilfish are nearly fifty feet 
long and the killers only half that length. What the 
killers particularly like is the tongue and the living 
tongue at that, I actually saw a killer come up beside 
a devilfish, stick his nose up against the lips, put on full 
speed with his tail and force his way into the devilfish's 
mouth. The whale was paralyzed with fright and lay 
there on its back, flippers wide spread while the killer 
devoured great chunks of its tongue. In the meantime, 
other killers were tearing at the throat and belly as the 
poor beast rolled in agony. We shot two devilfish one 
day and made them fast to either side of the ship's bow. 
As we towed them in to the station a killer swam along- 
side the ship, forced his head into the half open mouth 
of the dead whale, and started work on the tongue. 

Killers are called the "wolves of the sea," and it's a 
pretty good name. They hunt in packs and will devour 
anything that swims. Captain Scott writes in his diary 
about a narrow escape that Ponting, his photographer, 
had from killers in the Antarctic. The ship was moored 
to an ice floe and Scott called to Ponting to get some 
photographs of a school of killers which were swimming 

56 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

along the edge of the ice. Apparently they were inter- 
ested in several dogs which were on the floe. Ponting ran 
out just as the killers came up under the ice, smashing 
it with blows from their great bodies. Ponting barely 
escaped falling into the water. The ice which the killers 
broke was three feet thick. Admiral Byrd, too, had a 
narrow escape from killers in the same place. 

To my mind a killer whale was responsible for the 
story of the "Loch Ness Monster" in Scotland which made 
headlines in the public press a year ago. For some reason 
the man-in-the-street likes to think that sea serpents do 
exist; that somewhere in the ocean depths or in some 
far-off sea there may be strange creatures, survivors of 
the Age of Reptiles, still living. In spite of the fact that 
there isn't a shred of scientific evidence in support of 
such a belief it will not down. It has existed for cen- 
turies and I suppose will continue to exist for more 
centuries to come. All the sea serpents that have been 
reported, if they ever were captured have proved to be 
some already known fish or animal. 

Faulty observation is responsible in most cases. An 
animal at sea, as a rule, gives only a brief glimpse of 
itself. Perhaps it is a whale or a shark or a seal which 
is unknown to the observer. He sees it for a second or 
two, and only part of the body at one time. If he has a 
lively imagination he can make it look like almost any- 
thingand really believe that he saw what he thinks he 
saw. A sea serpent, to fit the popular conception, should 
have a long neck and a head like a camel. Why a camel, 
God only knows, but a camel-like head it must have. 

57 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Our observer tells of his apparition to a news hawk. A 
sea serpent story is just duck soup to a reporter. The 
story appears with a few added embellishments. Then 
the game is on. All over the country, along every sea- 
coasteven in little frequented ponds and lakes sea ser- 
pents will begin to appear. And they will all have a head 
like a camel! You watch for the next one and see if I 
am not right. Heated arguments with newspaper men 
have been my lot when I have scoffed at the sea serpent 
myth. The last one was with the editor of a great New 
York paper. 

"What I can't understand," said he, "is the pig-head- 
edness of you scientific fellows. Just because you haven't 
seen it you think it can't exist. You make me tired. You 
ought to put a sign up on your Museum 'Abandon all 
individual opinions ye who enter here/ " 

Arguments are of no avail. The average person wants 
to believe in sea serpents and he or she is going to be- 
lieve in them, no matter what facts are presented to the 
contrary. I suppose they feel as I felt as a child when 
other children tried to make me believe that there wasn't 
any Santa Glaus. Newspaper men like sea serpents, of 
course, because they give good copy. A story like that can 
be kept alive for days. 

I've said that most of the stories are the result of 
faulty observation. I'll explain what I mean. When we 
were hunting devilfish off the Korean coast, Captain Mel- 
som and I saw a whale swimming directly across our bows, 
half a mile away. It had two dorsal fins. Now no whale 
known to science has two dorsal fins* None at all, or 
one, yes; but not twol Nevertheless there it was. Melsom 

58 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

saw it, I saw it and all the crew saw it. There was not 
a man on the ship who would not have sworn an affidavit 
that we had seen a whale with two dorsal fins. 

I said to Melsom, "We've just got to kill that whale 
i we follow him a week. It's something new to science. 
If you kill it 111 name it after you/' 

The whale was loafing lazily along at the surface, 
apparently not going anywhere in particular. Melsom 
changed course to come up astern of the whale and we 
slid along quietly, engines at half speed. We were pretty 
close and the dorsal fins began to look rather strange. 
They weren't in line as they ought to have been. Then 
suddenly the whale dived. A great tail hove out of the 
water and right beside it a smaller tail. The mystery 
was solved. It was a mother finback whale with a half 
grown calf pressed close to her side. The calf was in such 
a position that its dorsal fin appeared just behind that 
of its mother. As we first saw them, with the calf on the 
far side and completely invisible, it looked exactly as 
though the mother had two dorsal fins. If we had not 
followed it up, I most certainly should have announced 
that I had seen a double-finned whale. It would have 
gone into scientific literature and remained as a recorded 
fact, backed by the statements of the other men on the 
ship. That's what I mean by faulty or incomplete ob- 
servation. 

The Loch Ness Monster was seen several times and 
photographed once. The picture, as it appeared in the 
New York Times, showed a long curved neck surmounted 
by a small head. Evidently it had been retouched by an 
artist who was obsessed by the "camel head" complex. I 

59 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



got a copy of the original from the Times and it showed 
just what I expected the dorsal fin of a killer whale. 
A killer's dorsal is six feet high and curved. It would 
make a wonderful neck for a sea serpent. The head could 
easily be supplied out of the imagination as the news- 
paper artist did, in fact. Doubtless what happened was 
that the killer made its way through the narrow gate 
of the Loch from the open sea and remained there for 
some days. It may even have gone in or out several 
times. 

But wasn't I unpopular with the Loch Ness support- 
ers when I said what I believed the "Serpent" to be! As a 
matter of fact the mythical creature was a boon to the 
dwellers near the Loch. Tourists came there in thou- 
sands and the canny Scotsmen did their stuff. No tourist 
got away without leaving a certain amount of "siller" to 
help keep the wolf from the door. I have a collection 
of picture postcards purchased at Loch Ness and the 
"monster" is shown in half a dozen forms, none of them 
alike. 

Whales and sea serpents seem to have risen up lately 
as a ghost out of my past. Sea serpents because of the 
Loch Ness Monster and whales because of the Dionne 
quintuplets. When I read of the arrival of the famous 
sisters way up there in Canada I hadn't an idea that I 
should ever figure with them in the public prints, even 
in the remotest way. But one day last winter Doctor 
Dafoe, the quintuplets' "deliverer," arrived in New York. 
The keys of the city were virtually handed over to the 
little doctor. New York set out to give him a good time 
60 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

and if he didn't have it at least the city did. He went 
everywhere and saw everything from Al Smith atop the 
Empire State Building to a ride on a ferryboat his first, 
by the way. 

It was reported in the papers that the doctor had 
said that the two things he most wanted to see in New 
York were the New York Zoological Park and The Amer- 
ican Museum of Natural History. In my capacity as Di- 
rector of the latter institution, I extended an invitation 
for him to visit the Museum. He arrived one morning 
accompanied by his brother, also a doctor, two detectives 
and half a dozen newspaper and cameramen. I met them 
at the entrance. 

"You haven't much time, Doctor," said I. "What 
would you most like to see?" 

"Whales," he answered without a moment's hesita- 
tion. "I read a book of yours on whales and I want to 
talk to you about how they are born." 

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the 
news hawks were on the job. Oh boy, what a story! Quin- 
tuplets and whales! But the doctor was really serious. 
He had never thought that it would make a good story. 
He isn't that sort of a doctor. By some chance he had 
come across a little book which I had written years ago 
entitled "Whale Hunting with Gun and Camera." In it 
I had written quite a lot about how whales are born 
and nursed and reared by their whale mothers and it 
had made him very curious. 

We walked out to the Hall of Ocean Life which is 
mostly filled with specimens collected by me during the 
eight years which I spent sailing the seven seas in search 

61 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



of cetaceans. Not only did I collect whales for the Mu- 
seum during those years, but I developed an almost inde- 
cent tendency to pry into their private lives. I was a 
regular Walter Winchell. Nothing was safe from my field 
glasses and camera and notebook. Probably a whole series 
of whale divorces could have been started if it had be- 
come public in the whale world what I saw and photo- 
graphed when certain lady and gentlemen whales were 
stepping out with each other on the surface. I saw them 
make love, and play together, and was even present at 
the accouchement of a whale, albeit it occurred when the 
animal was dead and was being drawn out of the water 
by a steam winch. Still I was present at the birth and 
I could give Doctor Dafoe a lot of first-hand information 
as to the way it happened. 

"First," said the doctor, "I want to know how big is 
a whale at birth?" 

"Well, that depends upon the species and the size of 
the mother, of course. I took a baby thirty feet long, 
weighing eight tons out of an eighty-foot blue whale." 

"My goodness! Eight tons, did you say? That's sixteen 
thousand pounds. My goodness! I never thought they 
were as big as that. What an awful time the mother must 
have. Why are they so big, do you suppose?" 

"It is because they live in water, which is a supporting 
medium. Of course if the mother had to carry such a 
weight about on land, she couldn't do it." 

"I read in your book, Doctor Andrews, that you had 
actually tasted whale's milk. What does it taste like and 
how does the baby nurse?" 

"The milk I tasted was pretty strong a decidedly fishy 
62 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

taste but it looks just like cow's milk. How they nurse, 
though, I never could figure out. The two teats are only 
about two inches long and the baby whale has a pointed 
snout and great thick lips. I suppose the mother rolls 
over on her back with the teat out of the water and the 
milk is ejected into the baby's mouth. I can't see any 
other way to do it. Certainly the baby couldn't nurse 
under water." 

All this time we had been walking about the halL I 
tried to show the doctor the wonderful coral reef group, 
He looked at it interestedly but always kept coming back 
to the whales. 

"Did you ever see a whale actually making love?" 
he asked. 

"Yes, once. I suppose I am the only scientist who 
ever did/' 

"What was it like?" 

"Well, in the main, it was just like any land mammal. 
For, of course, whales are land mammals that have taken 
up a life in the water. They would drown if they stayed 
under the surface too long. They used to live on land 
millions of years ago. The hind legs still remain as rudi- 
ments. The pair of whales that I saw making love were 
humpbacks fifty feet long. It was in Frederick Sound, 
Alaska. There wasn't a ripple on the surface and the 
spouts of the two whales shot up like a cloud of silver 
in the sunlight. Then one of them literally stood on its 
head and began to wave its great tail in the air, pounding 
the water into white foam. The other whale lay at the 
surface, rolling about indifferently. Then the bull swam 
up alongside and gave her a love pat with his twenty- 

63 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



foot flipper that would have killed an elephant. For ten 
minutes they lay still; then the bull backed off and dove. 
I thought he had gone for good, but she wasn't worried; 
she knew that he wouldn't leave heryet. Suddenly, with 
a tremendous rush the bull threw himself completely 
out of the water like a leaping salmon. It was a magnifi- 
cent sight as that enormous body, weighing nearly fifty 
tons, shot into the air. He fell back with a mighty splash 
and lay still. Then, rolling over and over like a log, he 
slid up to the female and clasped her with his great 
flippers. 

"All this time the ship had been creeping nearer. 
We were only twenty fathoms away and from the barrel 
at the masthead I could see every detail. Captain Gra- 
hame stood at the harpoon gun ready to shoot." 

"I yelled to him not to kill them then, but he was 
thinking of the thousand dollars their great bodies would 
bring the company. He shook his head, sighted along 
the barrel of the gun and let drive. The bull was dead 
instantly and the female still lay at the surface apparently 
dazed. Another harpoon was rammed home and the cap- 
tain sent it crashing into her body just as she started to 
dive." 

The doctor was listening, fascinated, to the story. 

"My goodness, I'd like to have been there. Did you 
see everything?" 

"Yes," said I. "I saw everything." 

We wandered out of the Hall of Ocean Life to the 
Roosevelt Memorial, still talking about whales. Of course 
I asked him about the famous quintuplets. 

"Well," said he, "I don't deserve any particular credit 



RANDOM REMINISCENCES OF ANIMALS 

for just delivering them. That wasn't so difficult. But 
keeping them alive wasn't so easy in all that dirt and 
in the unsanitary conditions. The organizing afterward 
that was the real job. And then, too, there were religious 
difficulties. But I've been there a long time and they sort 
of trust me/' 

With a deprecating laugh he dismissed the matter. 
A fine type, the doctor. One of those men who radiates 
dependability. He wasn't swept off his feet by the pub- 
licity and the reception New York City had given him, 
either. He knew just what value to put upon it. He was 
enjoying it thoroughly but his wise gray head had not 
been turned one little bit. A simple, kindly man devoted 
to his work and the people among whom he lives. I don't 
wonder that they "sort of trust him." 



CHAPTER V 



Wolf of Mongolia 

EXPLORATION and dogs are inseparable. At the Ex- 
plorers Club in New York City we have one wall devoted 
to the photographs of famous dogs who have made hon- 
orable names for themselves in exploration. 

I had two dogs on the Central Asiatic Expeditions. 
The first was a Siberian sledge dog named Mushka; the 
other an Alsatian police dog, Wolf. I might easily write 
a chapter about Mushka, for he was an extraordinary 
animal. But he never captured my affection as did Wolf. 
Mushka was the most egocentric animal I have ever 
known. He thought only about himself and acknowl- 
edged no man as master. He never showed a strong at- 
tachment to any individual. The person who would give 
him food when he wanted it and let him indulge his 
passion for hunting was the one to whom he rendered 
temporary allegiance. But it was only temporary. If he 
decided that some one else would give him more hunting 
or better food he dropped his other friend like a hot coal. 
He had uncanny intelligence, but it was exercised only 
for his own benefit. He used to move about in his little 
world completely wrapped in a mantle of selfishness. I 
couldn't help admiring him for his competence, but I 
liked him no better than I like a man or a woman with 
similar characteristics. 
66 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



I bought him as a hunting dog from a friend of mine, 
Oscar Mamen, in Urga, Mongolia. My first experience 
with Mushka was rather humiliating for me. Before I 
purchased him I borrowed him from Mamen to hunt 
roebuck. We were in the heavy forest north of Urga when 
a fine buck jumped out of the scrub birch. Mushka was 
off like a bullet. Not a yelp or bark just a soundless red 
streak on the trail of that deer. 

Not knowing Mushka's method of hunting, I fol- 
lowed. That was my mistake. I should have waited just 
where I was. In ten minutes the big red dog had brought 
the deer around in a circle to the place where he had 
started. I wasn't there. Mushka dropped the hunt in- 
stantly and took up my trail. He came up and stared at 
me. If ever an animal's face showed utter disgust and 
contempt, his did. After he had impressed me with what 
a poor fish he thought I was, he turned about and went 
straight back to Urga, without a glance in my direction. 
He wasn't going to waste his valuable time in working 
with a guy like me. Later, however, after Mamen had 
explained his method to me, I killed a lot of deer for 
him and he accorded me the privilege of his companion- 
ship in the field. 

Wolf was a different type. Loyal, affectionate, intelli- 
gent, courageous he was everything that a dog should 
be. He had been "mentioned in dispatches'' a score of 
times when we returned to Peking from the Gobi. I 
loved him and it tore my heart to leave him in Peking. 
He died only a few months ago. The Associated Press and 
United Press sent his obituary throughout the world, for 
he was a real explorer. A short time before his death I 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



wrote the following article. It seems fitting to include it 
as a chapter of this book just as it was written, for I can 
never think of Wolf as dead. 

Wolf pattered over the stones of the courtyard into 
my bedroom in Peking. He gave me a judicial look, then 
gently nudged my arm with his cold nose. He had de- 
cided that it was time I went to sleep. We understood 
each other perfectly. Yes, it was midnight. When the 
light went off Wolf curled up in his big chair. He always 
slept there except now and then when he stole into the 
drawing-room to stretch out luxuriously on one of the 
brocade sofas which he knew right well were forbidden 
to all dogs. 

I had been asleep for three hours when suddenly 
Wolf gave that peculiar growling bark which meant only 
a man-hunt. He was out of the door like a hurtling black 
demon. Came a scramble and a stifled scream. By that 
time I was on the floor, revolver in hand. Wolf was cir- 
cling about the ten-foot compound wall, every hair on 
end, snarling throatily. Together we went through the 
rock garden and among the trees and bushes, but he al- 
ways returned to the wall. Obviously the intruder had 
escaped the way he came and I knew that Wolf would 
sleep no more that night, so I went back to bed. The next 
morning Lo, my Number One Boy, and I made an in- 
spection. Below the wall there was the imprint of two 
feet and a strip of blood-stained cloth. Evidently it came 
from a pair of Chinese trousers. Lo looked at it and 
grinned. 
68 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



"Wolf take plenty meat out of that Chinaman/' 
said he. 

No doubt about it. The unfortunate thief had made 
just two jumps one down and the other up. If there had 
not been a missing brick in the wall that gave a toe-hold 
he would have been a dead Chinese. Wolf doesn't waste 
time on externals. When he attacks he goes straight to 
the root of the matter the throat. He has been taught 
that by countless fights with the man-eating dogs of Mon- 
golia. Had he caught the thief even if I could have pulled 
him loose, which is doubtful, the police would have 
given the man short shrift the next day. 

This, of course, because I am a foreigner who has 
extra-territorial rights in China. But a Russian friend of 
mine, Friedlander by name, had a very different experi- 
ence. Since the white Russians have no national repre- 
sentatives in China, the native police and other officials 
lose no opportunity to humiliate them. Friedlander's 
house was robbed one night when he was away and sev- 
eral thousand dollars' worth of furnishings stolen. The 
next day he brought a police dog from his house in the 
country. A week later a second robbery was attempted 
but this time the police dog caught the thief. Before his 
master could pull him off, the dog had almost undressed 
the man and badly chewed his left leg. Friedlander 
turned him over to the police and the thief confessed 
that it was he who hacj robbed the house the first time. 
He had returned to complete the job. 

Instead of dealing with him as would have been done 
in the case of a foreigner with extra-territorial rights, 
the Chinese police saw a heaven-sent opportunity for 

69 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



"squeeze." They told Friedlander that he had no right 
to keep such a fierce dog in his compound. That he must 
pay a thousand dollars fine for the injuries to the thief 
and in addition stand his hospital expenses. All because 
he kept a watch dog in his own house! 

Wolf always slept with both ears open. He must 
have, else he could not have heard a robber who tried to 
loot the Expedition's equipment room. This was a sepa- 
rate house, backed up against the street wall a good hun- 
dred yards from the rear court where I slept. One 
morning we found that the door had been forced and two 
new automobile tires were lying at the foot of the com- 
pound wall. Wolf had heard the thieves and frightened 
them off as they were getting over the wall just as he did 
the one near my bedroom. 

It is hardly fair to introduce Wolf as a man-hunter, 
for he is the most affectionate, the gentlest and the most 
lovable of police dogs. But the responsibility of the house 
and the camp rests on his shoulders and he takes it seri- 
ously. If a visitor arrives via the front gate, properly chap- 
eroned by the kan-mundi ("look-see-door-man") Wolf 
meets him with delighted barks. He loves people and 
loves to be petted. But, God help the intruder who comes 
in over the wall or in any other unorthodox fashion. 
Then Wolf is a raging man-killer. 

Eight years ago he was born in Kalgan, that little 
frontier city on the edge of Mongolia, with five other 
pups. Jack Strange loved him but he never could keep 
him at home. Always Wolf was ranging the hills. Some- 
times he would disappear for a week. He looks so much 
like a wolf that Strange feared he would be shot by wan- 

70 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



dering Chinese soldiers. Thus he came to me. Norman 
Lovell, one of the Expedition's motor transport officers, 
brought him to Peking on a cold winter's night. There 
were four of us in the office when he arrived. Wolf went 
from man to man, sniffing each one and regarding him 
gravely. Perhaps it was because I gave him the back of 
my hand to smell while the others presented their palms. 
Anyway he flopped down on the floor with his head 
against my feet. When we left the room an hour later I 
was the one he followed. He had adopted me for better 
or for worse. He was fond of all the other members of 
the Expedition, but his allegiance to me never wavered. 
He loved camp life in the desert. As soon as prepara- 
tions began in the spring Wolf was bursting with excite- 
ment. He knew perfectly well what it was all about. One 
April we sent seven of the motor cars across the city in 
the evening to be loaded on the train early in the morn- 
ing. Only one truck remained in the compound. I was 
ready to go at daylight but no Wolf. We searched every 
corner of the gardens and every room of the house. Not a 
trace. I couldn't wait any longer and left orders to have 
a coolie bring him to Kalgan by the next train. A tar- 
paulin covered the truck, tied down by ropes except in 
front. I was driving and was halfway to the city gate 
when a cold nose touched me on the back of the neck. 
Wolf's head was cautiously extended from under the 
tarpaulin. His look was half pleading, half reproach. I 
stopped the car and put my arms around his neck; with 
a yelp of delight he struggled out onto the seat at my 
side. Poor old dog! When he saw the seven other cars 
driven off the previous night he thought we were going 

71 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



to leave him behind. I never could figure out how he had 
managed to burrow under the tarpaulin, for the ropes 
were pulled tight and he is a large animal. 

Wolf had come to believe that all dogs are his ene- 
mies. It is natural enough because he is a foreigner in 
Mongolia and the big Mongol dogs go for him like a 
shot. They seem to object to the fact that he is different. 
He certainly is a lot more handsome, and perhaps they 
resent his personal beauty. Anyway, there is no sniffing 
around they fight at sight. Wolf has learned that attack 
is the best defense and he generally beats them to it. 
What fights those are! Wolf has one advantage. He wears 
a broad spiked collar and that protects his throat. Also, 
he is cleverer than the others. But they have thick matted 
hair and sometimes it is difficult for him to get a throat- 
hold. I have seen him spit out three or four mouthfuls 
of hair before he could get his teeth in flesh. 

Wolf has discretion as well as valor. He is perfectly 
willing to take on any two dogs in Mongolia even though 
they may be bigger and heavier than he, but he watches 
his step when there are three or more. The Mongol dogs 
are terrifying beasts. Larger than a police dog, black with 
brown points, and savage as tigers. From earliest birth 
they are taught to guard the caravan or camp and will 
attack a stranger at sight. Not only that, they will eat him 
too. The Mongols do not bury their dead. Instead, they 
throw out the corpses to be devoured by the dogs, wolves 
and birds. Near a lama monastery packs of dogs that live 
largely upon human flesh are always prowling about. In 
Urga, the capital of Mongolia, it is most unsafe to go out 
at night unarmed. I came into Urga one evening on 

7* 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



horseback after a seventy-mile ride. My pony was dead- 
tired and trotted slowly up the main street. Suddenly five 
large dogs rushed from behind the old Russian Con- 
sulate. One leaped for my leg, but I kicked him off and 
he caught the stirrup leather; another fastened his teeth 
in the pony's hind leg and a third got a hold on his tail. 
As I pulled my rifle from the holster the pony lashed out 
wildly with both feet. One dog rolled over yelping and 
instantly the whole pack was upon him. I watched a pack 
of dogs tear apart a dead Mongol who had been dragged 
out from the Lama city. It took just seven minutes to 
scatter the corpse over the plain. I won't give you the de- 
tails for it wasn't a nice sight. 

I had a narrow escape myself from being eaten by 
fourteen dogs while lying asleep in a fur bag on the 
desert near the Turin monastery. Only a lucky shot from 
a tiny .22-caliber rifle which killed the leading dog and 
turned the pack saved me from a horrible death. Almost 
every member of the Central Asiatic Expedition has been 
attacked and we made it a rule never to move from camp 
without a revolver. 

Thus you can see what pleasant companions Wolf 
had in Mongolia and why he doesn't like them. He is a 
dog of breeding and character and it is a long way be- 
neath his dignity to associate with canines that eat human 
flesh and are cannibals besides. He knew that he never 
would get a square deal; that they would turn on him at 
the first yelp, so he declared war on all dogs. 

Wolves he doesn't like, but I think he respects them. 
He knows they are bad medicine even for a fighting 
police dog. The Mongolian plains wolves are long-legged 

73 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



rangy beasts perhaps a little heavier than Wolf. He will 
bark at them from a safe distance, or if one of us backs 
him up with a rifle, but he won't attack in earnest. Two 
wolves came near camp early one morning. Wolf routed 
me out of the tent by frantic barking. When he saw that 
I had my rifle and was following, he dashed furiously at 
the wolves as though he would finish them both off. 
They loped slowly away at first but suddenly stopped and 
faced him. You should have seen him put on brakes with 
all four feet! He wasn't having any, thank you. As he saw 
me drop on one knee to shoot, he jumped to one side 
and waited for what he knew would come. I killed the 
nearest one but the other was only wounded. He 
whirled about and tried to run but Wolf was on him like 
a tiger. When I came up he had his deadly throathold 
and the story was almost ended. Again early one morning 
a wolf walked right into camp; I suppose it was curiosity. 
We tried to "sic" Wolf on the animal but he wouldn't 
be "sicked." He gazed about the landscape in the most 
interested manner in every direction except at the wolf. 
He knew that we were not backing him up with a rifle 
and he didn't intend to be the goat for anybody's fun. 

Gazelle drove him wild for he couldn't catch them. 
One morning a great herd came up out of the badlands 
not a hundred yards from the tents. They streamed over 
the rim of the basin in a yellow flood, thousands of them. 
Wolf would dive for an antelope like a bullet. It would 
wait until he was almost ready to spring, and then leap 
away. Since a gazelle can reach a speed of sixty miles an 
hour for the first dash, poor Wolf didn't have a ghost of 
a chance. The animals were only playing with him and 

74 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



he knew it. After an hour he dragged himself into my 
tent absolutely exhausted and flopped down. He simply 
radiated disgust and it was perfectly evident what he 
thought about all antelope. 

But he got his own back one day. A herd of gazelle 
came within a few hundred yards of camp. Jumping into 
a car with Mac Young driving, we had a shot in less than 
a minute. I wounded two bucks but they could still run 
at a very respectable speed. Wolf had followed the car 
and had almost caught up with us when I fired. Without 
a pause he dashed by, running for the nearest gazelle. 
Mac and I jumped in the car to watch the finish. It was 
a beautiful race. Inch by inch Wolf hauled up on the 
buck. For a hundred yards he ran almost at its heels; 
then with a terrific spring he hurled himself on to the 
quarters of the gazelle. They rolled over together but 
Wolf had a hold on the flank and his weight held the 
antelope down. Suddenly shifting to the throat he tore 
open the jugular vein. When we had the antelope in 
camp Wolf lay down beside it and for hours would let 
none of us come near. It was his buck killed by himself 
alone, he thought. It represented final victory over the 
animals which had so often made a monkey of him be- 
fore all the camp. 

In spite of this, Wolf assumed responsibility for the 
safety of a baby gazelle which we had as a pet. One of the 
Mongols caught the little thing when it was only a few 
hours old and brought it to camp in the sleeve of his 
coat. Wolf knew instantly that that gazelle was not to be 
killed. It was so tiny and helpless that it had to be pro- 
tected, and if our two ravens attempted to annoy it as 

75 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



they did everything else, Wolf would drive them off like 
a tiger- 
Lieut. "Bill" Wyman, topographer, reared the baby 
on dried milk. It was a delicate job and only Bill's de- 
voted care saved its life. Every two hours it had to be fed 
with warm milk, and Bill trained himself to wake at 
feeding time all through the night. He would light the 
candle, warm the milk, push the nipple into the gazelle's 
mouth and sleep for another two hours. Finally we 
bought a goat from the Mongols. They kept her kid but 
it was some days before she would let the gazelle nurse. 
Also the baby wanted none of the goat. At last they 
adopted each other and became devoted companions. 
But the goat's legs were so short that the antelope had 
difficulty in nursing. Bill Wyman solved the problem by 
building a platform of stones for the goat's fore and hind 
feet. It was screamingly funny to see the goat solemnly 
hoisted to its pedestal and stand chewing its cud while 
the gazelle ran underneath between the stones and 
greedily devoured its breakfast. 

Wolf met his match one day in the shape of a hedge- 
hog. As you know, these little fellows are about half the 
size of a hare and are covered with spines as sharp as 
needles. When they roll themselves into a tight ball they 
are absolutely impervious to attack. Wolf's first hedgehog 
drove him nearly mad. He couldn't figure it out at all. It 
smelled like an animal but it didn't feel like any animal 
that he had ever touched. Biting only got his mouth full 
of quills. Rolling it over with his paws pricked his feet. 
Barking didn't do any good. When it uncurled and 
started to run, at his first touch it rolled up again. For 




I 

6fl 

w 
p 



z 

n4 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



two days he puzzled over the enigma, assisted by a Mon- 
gol puppy and a pet crow. At last he definitely gave up. 
But he had lost so much "face/' as the Chinese say, over 
the performance that he decided to ignore completely 
the existence of the darned thing. We kept it as a pet for 
months but never would Wolf so much as glance in its 
direction even though it actually ran over his feet. He 
would quickly move away apparently absorbed in some 
object in the far-distant horizon. 

Another of the camp pets used to annoy Wolf a good 
deal. This was a black vulture. It is one of the largest 
birds of the world and has a wing spread of ten feet. 
Ours was named "Connie." She had been reared from 
a fledgling and of course was perfectly tame. Wolf had a 
particular place in the back of the tent, close against the 
cloth, where he loved to sleep. Connie liked the same 
spot. When she found Wolf in possession Connie would 
go to the outside and jump up and down on the cloth 
directly over the dog. Wolf would wake with a start and 
dash out only to find Connie hurrying to get inside be- 
fore he returned. This is really true. I have the evidence 
of all the other men on the Expedition to prove it. You 
have to be particularly careful about your stories when 
there are fifteen other men who can check you up. 

The bird had really amazing intelligence. We used 
to give her water from a gasoline tin which always stood 
at die entrance to my tent. Connie would stretch up her 
neck, open her great beak and take the water in gulps 
as one of us poured it for her. One day I was sitting in 
the rear of the tent, writing. Connie came up to the can 
and waited expectantly. I paid no attention and soon she 

77 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



hopped up to my chair, tugged at my coat and then went 
back to the can. I gave her water and every one was 
happy. 

Vultures, you may not know, are among the best o 
all birds for pets. Because they are carrion feeders one 
thinks of them as being horribly dirty. But that is only 
because they have not had the advantages of a proper 
education. Environment can do anything. It can even 
turn a filthy vulture into a most clean and respectable 
bird. Connie used to take a bath two or three times a day 
if we were near a stream or salt lake and spend hours 
preening her feathers and drying out in the sun with 
wings half spread. I think she was the cleanest bird I have 
ever seen. We could not get her to touch carrion even 
when half starved. She had always been fed fresh antelope 
meat and nothing else would do. Once when we were in 
a country where there were no gazelle, she went without 
food for three days rather than eat some bad smelling 
scraps which N. C. Nelson, the archaeologist, found for 
her. She was persuaded to swallow a bit of antelope liver 
but obviously hated it. I brought her to San Francisco 
on the U.S.S. President Taft and thence by train to 
New York. Of course she was a curiosity and always had 
an audience on the after deck. But she was uniformly 
good-tempered and it was touching to see the joy with 
which she welcomed me when I came for a visit. She 
would poke her great head under my coat and rub up 
and down nestling it under my arm. 

I did the steamship company a rather low trick when 
purchasing her ticket. I said I wanted a ticket for a bird. 
The agent looked up the rates and found that the only 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



birds listed were canaries and the passage cost five dollars. 

"I suppose it is a canary, isn't it?" he asked. 

"Well, no," I admitted. "It isn't a canary, exactly. Do 
I look like a man who has canaries?" 

He laughed while making out the ticket and forgot to 
ask what kind of a bird it was. So Connie traveled on a 
canary's ticket and ate two pounds of meat a day. But 
the steamship company got more than enough publicity 
to pay her food bill. 

When we camped in the desert three hundred miles 
from Kalgan, the Danish Minister to China, Hon. Hen- 
rich von Hoffman, stopped at camp for a visit while en 
route to Urga. He arrived late in the afternoon and we 
gave him a tent close to the edge of the escarpment. In 
the morning he opened his eyes to see a huge black vul- 
ture sitting on the foot of his army cot, solemnly gazing 
at him. He couldn't believe his eyes and finally yelled 
to me to ask if I saw what he saw. 

I might go on ad infinitum with stories of Connie's 
amusing exploits, but Wolf is really the subject of this 
narrative and there is a good deal more to tell about him. 
He didn't like Connie but he tolerated her. Except when 
she drove him out from his place in my tent, he assumed 
a lordly indifference and disdained to even notice her. A 
Mongol puppy which we had, loved to play with the vul- 
ture but not Wolf. He was the most dignified and the 
most jealous police dog I have ever known. He simply 
would not tolerate another dog in the Peking house, no 
matter how small it was. In camp it took weeks to make 
him accept the Mongol pup. We acquired the puppy in 
rather an interesting way. 

79 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



The Expedition stopped for water at a well on a cara- 
van trail. Not far away lay the body of a dead horse. The 
birds had emptied the carcass and pulled off most of the 
flesh. Inside the thorax a little black pup, only a few 
weeks old, was living. Evidently it had beer* lost from a 
Mongol caravan. The puppy had made himself a com- 
fortable bed inside his strange house and kept fairly well 
fed by eating the scraps of flesh that still adhered to the 
skeleton. Dr. Granger's car was the last to leave and as 
he was assisting the topographers, he stopped half a mile 
from the well. Thus he spied the puppy legging it after 
his car as fast as it could run. It was just about all in 
when it reached him and of course he couldn't leave it 
to starve on the desert. The poor little thing smelled hor- 
ribly but Granger gave it a bath that night and it im- 
mediately adopted him. 

Wolf resented its presence bitterly. Of course it was 
beneath his dignity to injure so small a dog but if it came 
near him he snarled and showed his teeth. As the puppy 
grew older it tried its best to play with Wolf. Its efforts 
were pitiful for it evidently looked at the big police dog 
with a sort of hero worship. Wolf resisted all advances for 
at least two months. Finally his resentment cooled and he 
would deign to play for a few moments in rather a shame- 
faced way. But he never became fond of his little Mongol 
companion or really relaxed his dignity in its presence. 

Wolf had one bad habit that nearly cost him his life. 
He was a sheep killer. I say "was" but perhaps it would 
be better to say "is." It is almost an axiom that sheep 
killing can't be cured in a dog. I don't think it can, per- 

80 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



manently, but I did cure Wolf temporarily. The method, 
however, was pretty severe. 

The disease developed in Wolf rather gradually. The 
first year he was with us nothing happened until the mid- 
dle of the summer. Then Walter Granger came into 
camp one night and reported that he had found two 
freshly killed sheep in a ravine and had seen Wolf not 
far away. Apparently the two sheep had strayed from the 
flock, Wolf had come upon them suddenly and was over- 
come by temptation. This first experience of such a di- 
verting pastime gave him the germs of a disease which 
raged in his blood like a fever. 

A few days later George Olsen actually saw him kill 
a sheep. The Mongol owner came into camp highly in- 
censed but was pacified by receiving more money than 
the animal was worth. We ate the sheep. It became a com- 
mon occurrence and the men complained of having too 
much mutton. But I will say that Wolf was a good judge 
of sheep so far as their edible qualities were concerned. 
He always picked tender ones. Finally we had to tie him 
up until we left that place. 

At the next camp our caravan joined us. The loads 
were no sooner off and the camels peacefully grazing out 
on the plain than Wolf began to do his stuff. Selecting a 
camel right in the middle of the herd, he drove it out, 
biting and barking at its heels. When he had frightened 
the poor beast half to death and it was running across the 
desert as though the devil were after it, Wolf came back 
for another. In half an hour, in spite of all the Mongols 
could do, our camel herd was fleeing in every direction. 
We couldn't stop Wolf. He was deaf to all commands 

8l 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



and no one could catch him. He was possessed of but one 
idea to scatter that herd. Some of the camels were so 
frightened and ran so far that our Mongols did not find 
them for three days. Of course Wolf was tied up after 
that performance. But he seemed so penitent and pitiful 
that I let him free after a week's punishment. 

Our next camp was on the edge of an oasis near a 
Mongol village. The first evening Wolf distinguished 
himself by tearing the throat of a heifer and scattering 
the herd of cattle to the four winds of heaven. I gave him 
a severe beating which certainly hurt me more than it 
did him and tied him up for another week. The climax 
came some time later when he killed two sheep half a 
mile from the tents. A big Mongol rode into camp ab- 
solutely furious. Before he calmed down I thought blood 
would be spilled, the worst of it being that he was per- 
fectly right. We didn't have the ghost of a defense. He 
said that if we did not keep that infernal foreign dog tied 
up we'd have to leave right then or he and his friends 
would drive us out. It was a rich fossil field and we 
couldn't go. We tried another method that I hoped 
would work because of Wolf's great dignity. I tied one 
of the dead sheep to his collar by a short rope. Wherever 
Wolf went he had to drag that sheep. It was to be a con- 
stant reminder of his sins. Never did I see a more de- 
jected or humiliated dog. He wouldn't look at any one; 
he was crushed to earth. After two days of living beside 
the dead sheep his condition was pitiful. But I thought 
for good measure that he had better have another twenty- 
four hours. Then we let him loose and I watched him 
carefully. 

82 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



There were half a dozen sheep near camp. For five 
minutes Wolf ran from one tent to another visiting every 
member of the Expedition just as though he had re- 
turned from a trip abroad and was infinitely glad to be 
home. He seemed to want to dispel the idea that he had 
ever been so disgraced as to be tied for three days to a 
dead sheep. I had decided that either Wolf had to be 
cured or he must be killed. We couldn't stay in Mon- 
golia and have the natives turned against us by a sheep- 
killing dog. Much as I loved Wolf, the Expedition was 
more important than his life. As a last resort I deter- 
mined to give him a dose of fine shot. For an hour after 
his release Wolf was able to resist the temptation of those 
grazing sheep. Then, suddenly, he cracked. I saw him 
gaze fixedly at the animals and begin to tremble. Saliva 
dripped out of his mouth and like a shot he was off. 
Shouts were useless. He was in the grip of an uncon- 
trollable disease. 

I grabbed my shotgun and just as he sank his teeth 
in the throat of a young ewe, I fired a charge of No. 6 
shot at his hind quarters. The impact knocked him off his 
feet, but he certainly was a sportsman. He never even 
yelped but limped off silently behind the camp. He cir- 
cled about and tried to crawl into my tent. I hardened 
my heart and drove him away. He went to George Olsen's 
only to be refused asylum. Out on the desert he crawled 
and lay down a hundred yards from camp. I was almost 
weeping but he had to be cured or killed. After an hour 
I asked Dr. Loucks, the surgeon, to go out and examine 
him. He reported that Wolf's rear end was pretty well 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



filled with shot but that no bones were broken and that 
he would be all right in a few days. 

Next morning he was a sorry spectacle, so stiff and 
sore that he could barely walk. He got no sympathy or 
petting but by the end of the week he was pretty well 
recovered. It cured him temporarily. We had no more 
trouble that season. Whenever sheep were near camp 
Wolf would deliberately lie down in the rear of my tent, 
away from temptation. If I saw the suspicious trembling 
and drooling, a sharp word sent him into the tent. But 
the next season the old disease was back upon him, al- 
though not so strongly. He could resist it if one of us 
were near but he did kill two or three sheep before the 
summer ended. The treatment had one permanent effect, 
however it made him deathly afraid of guns. Even in 
Peking when I was practicing with my revolver in the 
mornings Wolf would crawl under my bed until the 
shooting ended. He feared a gun so badly that it was next 
to impossible to get photographs of him. The moment a 
camera or a stick was pointed in his direction he ran like 
a stag. 

The poor dog had another experience which he never 
forgot. The surgeon, Dr. Loucks, wanted to inoculate 
him against rabies before we went to Mongolia. He had 
to be muzzled and trussed like a pig for market and I 
never have seen such abject terror exhibited by any ani- 
mal although he was not hurt in the slightest. In some 
way he associated it with the shooting in Mongolia. Like 
many surgeons, Dr. Loucks had a faint odor of iodoform 
about his clothes. From that moment on the smell of 
iodoform or the sight of an instrument case would send 



WOLF or MONGOLIA 



Wolf into the gardens, up the stone rockwork and onto 
the roofs. He used to prowl for half a mile over the roofs 
of the neighboring houses, hunting cats and greeting the 
dogs in the various compounds; but he never descended 
except in our own yard. 

He was ill one day and I telephoned Dr. Loucks to 
look him over. Wolf was lying on the floor in my office. 
The instant he heard me mention his name, he sat up 
listening intently. He would not go back to sleep and half 
an hour later when the doctor arrived, he took one look 
and dashed for his safe haven on the roofs. The Chinese 
servants all firmly believed that he could understand 
English and used to warn me not to talk about him over 
the telephone if he were present. 

When a visitor came to the house, Wolf greeted him 
with delighted barks. He would sit up and offer his paw 
and every one instantly succumbed to his charm. But 
Wolf knew in a few minutes whether or not they were 
just being polite or whether they really liked dogs. I re- 
member that Noel Coward, the actor-playwright, cap- 
tured his affections at once because Noel adores dogs. 
Before I knew it they were rolling over and over on the 
floor having the most wonderful romp. While Noel was 
in the house Wolf would not let him out of his sight. 

When the Expedition was in the Gobi, Wolf was a 
busy dog. Everything that went on about the camp was 
his concern. At night particularly did he feel his re- 
sponsibility. As long as candles were burning in the tents, 
he would drop in every half hour for inspection. When 
the men crawled into their sleeping bags and extin- 
guished the lights, Wolf would make a last visit, nuzzle 

85 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



each one to be sure that he was all right and then cross 
that tent off his list. After all the lights were out Wolf 
would lie down about ten feet in front of my tent and 
doze for a few moments. But always with one eye open. 
Once or twice during the night he inspected the camels, 
although he seemed to feel that they were not really part 
of his job. 

One night a party of six bandits rode into camp. They 
made a grave mistake for they had seen only two tents. 
Wolf had the whole camp roused in three minutes and 
the bandits got the surprise of their lives when they saw 
lights flash on in fifteen tents. We took their rifles and let 
them go, much to Wolfs disgust, for he was aching to 
sink his teeth into various soft parts of their anatomy. 
Of course the bandits protested that they were soldiers. 
Probably it was quite true. In China virtually all soldiers 
are bandits. Receiving no pay and not too much food be- 
comes boring after awhile and whenever a chance to rob 
presents itself, the soldiers change their status abruptly. 
Sometimes it is only temporary but often they take to the 
open road for good. 

It was a sad time for both Wolf and me when I closed 
the Central Asiatic Expedition's headquarters in Peking. 
It meant breaking up the home in which we had lived for 
twelve years. And it meant saying good-by to each other 
for a year or perhaps forever. With the initial packing 
Wolf's excitement rose to fever heat. He thought we were 
getting ready for Mongolia. Then slowly he realized that 
something was wrong. This wasn't the usual kind of an 
expedition. There were no motors chugging in the great 
front courtyard and the rooms were being dismantled. 
86 



WOLF OF MONGOLIA 



Sadness crept over him and he drooped like a half dead 
flower. The last week when an auction sale was held in 
the house Wolf was really ill. For two days he touched no 
food. He drank water in great gulps but I could not 
tempt him to eat a mouthful. He lay on the floor in my 
bedroom, gazing sorrowfully at me with his big brown 
eyes. If I moved he was at my heels. He did not want to 
leave me for a second in what he knew perfectly well were 
our last hours together. The day before I left Peking I 
took him in my car to the house of one of my friends, 
H. R. Ekins, manager of the Peking branch of the 
United Press. Wolf ran about, inspecting the rooms but 
always coming back to gaze into my face. In the hall when 
I put my arms about his neck to say good-by his head was 
wet with the tears which I could not control. I never saw 
him again. 

You may wonder why I did not bring him to New 
York. It would have been cruel to him. All his life he 
had roamed the plains of Mongolia or had a great Chi- 
nese compound in which to run. For him, in New York, 
life would have meant my penthouse roof; lonely days 
when I left in the morning and only a few brief hours 
together while I was dressing for dinner. It would have 
broken his heart he would have died in six months. Far 
better that he stayed in China in the surroundings where 
he was born, with a new master who is already his de- 
voted slave. If ever I return, Wolf of Mongolia will be 
waiting and I know that I shall not be forgotten. 



CHAPTER VI 



Superstition 

RELIGIOUS beliefs are certainly the most fruitful 
source of potential trouble when an explorer is dealing 
with primitive natives. Ideas which to us are laughable 
in the extreme may be of the utmost seriousness to a 
native. Almost all primitive religions are based largely 
on superstition; in their operation there is compara- 
tively little deep religious feeling such as we understand 
it. Natives believe that if such and such a thing is done, 
the result will be immediate; it may come in after life 
also, but they are morally certain that tomorrow or next 
day unfortunate things will begin to happen. They think 
of their God much as a human being; if they make Him 
mad He'll get back at them pronto. I could give a score 
of instances where explorers have met disaster for their 
expeditions or death because of such ignorance. There- 
fore it behooves an explorer to learn about the religious 
beliefs of any natives he is to come in contact with and 
to watch his step if he expects to avoid trouble. 

Like most lessons I had to learn mine by experience 
and I confess that I was rather stupid about it. Some were 
amusing and some might have been serious. One of my 
first experiences was on the edge of Tibet. I wanted 
photos of the people but they ran at the sight of a 
camera. I decided to get the photos anyway. We were 



SUPERSTITION 



camped near a trail where Tibetan caravans were con- 
tinually passing on their way to the tea regions in the 
south. I hid behind a bush and when a particularly pic- 
turesque native came along I leaped out with camera 
poised. With a yell they would dash behind a mule. One 
chap trudging along beside a woman grabbed her around 
the waist and held her in front of him while he backed 
off. I didn't learn until afterward that these particular 
people believed that I would take away their spirits in 
the black box; that lacking the intangible something that 
made their bodily wheels go around, they would soon 
shrivel up and die. Moreover, that there would be no 
Happy Hunting Ground for them in the future life. 

After a couple of days of this stalking of Tibetans, 
my men learned that the natives were about to descend 
upon us with murderous intent and that the quicker we 
cleared out the better. It was only then that I realized 
that what was rather silly or amusing to me was far 
from either silly or amusing to them and that through 
ignorance I had committed a grave social error. 

So again on my first trip to Mongolia I let myself 
in for an experience which might have been serious had 
it not happened in the house of a Mongol friend. The 
Mongols believe that the instant life departs evil spirits 
take up their abode in the corpse. If any one touches a 
dead human body, or even the bones or skull, he draws 
the evil spirits into himself. I did not know this. When 
I first went to Urga I lived in the house of a Mongol 
Duke, Lobitsan. He was a splendid fellow, a keen sports- 
man, full of humor and much liked by foreigners. 

I was shooting ducks one day near the Tola River 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



and found a human skulL It was clean and white. I knew 
that the Department of Anthropology of The American 
Museum of Natural History needed Asiatic skulls so I 
put it in a game pocket and returned to the house, very 
pleased with myself. Lobitsan was in the room when I 
produced the skull. He leaped to his feet, furiously angry, 
shouting at me in Chinese and Mongol and ran into the 
courtyard. 

"Take your skull and get out of my house/' he yelled. 
"You can't stay here with that. Get out! Get out!" 

I grabbed it and dashed for the compound gate, for 
Lobitsan was beside himself with rage. 

One of my friends who had lived in Mongolia for 
years fortunately was there. I was completely bewildered 
but he explained what it was all about. He said that I 
must take the skull back to the exact spot where I had 
found it; in the meantime he would see what he could do. 

Two hours later when I returned there was the most 
infernal din in the house. Cymbals clashing, drums bang- 
ing, and through it all a continuous drone of lama voices 
reciting prayers. My friend met me outside. He said that 
the Duke had rushed to the nearest temple. The high 
priest had sent a riot squad of lamas and "sicked" them 
on the evil spirits which I had let loose in the house. This 
prompt action probably would save the place; otherwise 
it would have to be burned. 

They were like a force of American insect extermi- 
nators. For two days and nights the incantations went 
on continuously. Then the high priest announced to 
Lobitsan that he had the spirits pretty well under control 
and that he felt sure none were lurking even under the 

90 



SUPERSTITION 



floor boards. A thousand dollars would be his fee. Also 
I had learned my lesson about Mongol superstitions. 

Until Lamaism was introduced into Mongolia from 
Tibet and became the official religion about the time 
of Kublai Khan's death in 1294, the natives were Sha- 
manists, worshiping the gods of the hills, rivers, rocks 
and plains. Much of this nature worship still remains and 
of course all their religion is based on superstition. It is 
the great weapon by which the lama priests keep their 
people within their power. One time when I was camped 
in the forests of northern Mongolia not far from a Mon- 
gol village, a wandering lama dropped in for a few days' 
visit. A baby had a bad case of eczema. I cured it. A 
man had a dislocated shoulder and I put that back in 
place. Hardly a day passed without some native coming 
to me with an ill of some kind. I made plenty of cures 
but the lama priest got all the fees because in every case 
he told the patient that the cure really had been effected 
by his prayers. They admitted to me, in private, that 
they really believed it was my foreign medicine that had 
done the trick, but that they didn't dare to anger the 
lama or he would bring on them dire curses that their 
sheep and horses would die and they themselves would 
perish of awful diseases. 

Of course any one who has read Kipling's delightful 
story "Kim" has rather a sentimental feeling about lamas. 
I suppose that there are some priests like his, but those 
whom I have seen are as a whole the most ignorant, de- 
bauched and completely undesirable parasites that I have 
ever encountered. The lamas, and the Chinese too, think 
that they can fool their gods. In my penthouse in New 

91 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



York I have three lovely bronze lanterns which I got from 
a Tibetan temple. The priest wasn't very keen to sell 
them to me but finally he succumbed to the bait of empty 
bottles. Before he took them from their places, however, 
he plastered over the eyes of the Buddha with a handful 
of mud. I said, "What are you doing that for?" 
"So the God can't see me taking them out/' 
"But/' said I, "he could hear us talking about it/' 
"Oh, no/' he answered, "we are speaking Chinese and 
he can only understand Tibetan!" 

As a matter of fact, that isn't confined only to ignorant 
natives. A friend of mine who was professor of literature 
in a Christian university in Peking once asked his class 
of Chinese students why when they sang religious songs 
they always used English words. One boy answered, "be- 
cause Jesus Christ was a foreigner and he wouldn't under- 
stand Chinese!" 

Usually the reaction of natives to something they 
can't understand is fear. Often fear can be used to great 
advantage by an explorer. But he must realize also that 
he can't scare the people of the country half to death and 
expect the friendly cooperation which may be necessary 
for the success of his expedition. There are times when 
it is impossible to avoid frightening natives or when it 
is completely unexpected. 

I remember that some years ago I was crossing the 
Gobi Desert from Kalgan in north China to Urga, the 
capital of Mongolia. The Hutukhtu, or Living Buddha, 
wanted an electric light plant and one of my friends had 
sold him a Delco. We made camp about a mile from a 
Mongol village of a dozen yurts. Ted McCallie suggested 

9* 



SUPERSTITION 



that we rig an arc light on a pole and give the Mongols 
a thrill. It seemed like a sound idea. The arc light was 
duly rigged and blazed out like a beacon on the seacoast. 
We sat ourselves down to wait for the influx of Mongols 
whom we had aimed to impress. But no one came. Next 
morning in place of the Mongol village there was a 
tenantless plain. Not a sign of a camel or a sheep or a 
yurt. They had all moved out during the night, fright- 
ened absolutely pink. Word of the strange ball of fire that 
had suddenly appeared in the desert traveled even faster 
than we did and we heard of it from natives hundreds of 
miles away. 

I think that the most amusing experience I ever had 
with Mongols was when the Central Asiatic Expedition 
was encamped in the Gobi Desert not far from a large 
temple. Few of the natives ever had seen a white man. 
Anyway when our motor cars roared up they were fright- 
ened nearly to death. All those who had ponies leaped 
on their backs and fled to the hills. Eventually they 
drifted back and when they discovered that we were 
friendly and harmless they crowded about in silent, star- 
ing groups. 

I started to shave but the tent door was so packed 
with Mongols that I finally decided to perform the opera- 
tion in public and moved out into the open. In the first 
place a Mongol has very little beard and to see me lather- 
ing my face and scraping off the hair with a safety razor, 
which didn't look like a knife, was something to write 
home about. They were so pleased that I called one of 
our men who had two sets of false teeth, to give them a 
real show. He rolled up his sleeves, spread out his hands 

93 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



in the most approved manner, and pointed to his teeth. 
Then with a yell he yanked out both sets and held them 
up for inspection. The Mongols nearly fainted. He 
clapped them in again and grinned. We told the na- 
tives that any of us could do the same thing. Who would 
they like to see perform next? Meanwhile I shoved an- 
other man, Albert Johnson, up into the front row. Albert 
also rejoiced in the possession of false teeth. A big Lama 
pointed to Albert and he pulled out first his upper and 
then his lower set. That got a big hand. But the climax 
came when we produced our archaeologist who has a 
glass eye. Very impressively I explained to the breathless 
audience that we weren't limited to teeth but could even 
take out our eyes as well. Would they like to see? They 
would. Out came the eye; it was exhibited and was then 
popped in again. 

By that time the Mongols were ready to believe any- 
thing. They asked if we could take off our legs and arms 
as well. I said of course we could but that we were get- 
ting a bit tired and would have to call it a day. Our 
reputation was made, however, and it traveled far. The 
next year when we were hundreds of miles away some 
of our Expedition were camped in a gloomy canyon at 
the base of the Altai Mountains. A family of Mongols 
stopped for a day on their trek to other grazing grounds. 
They hailed our men with enthusiasm for they said 
every family in the Gobi Desert had heard of the won- 
derful way in which we could take off various parts of 
our bodies and put them on again. Could they have a 
demonstration? There was nothing doing, however, for 

94 



SUPERSTITION 



the men with the false teeth and the glass eye weren't with 
us that season. 

Natives o different countries by no means act alike. 
Martin Johnson tells me that the natives of Africa are 
not particularly interested in aeroplanes nor are they 
really frightened when they see one. They simply accept 
it stoically as a part of the white man's way of doing 
things. If he wants to fly in the air it's all right with them 
so long as they don't have to do it themselves. They don't 
like that a bit. 

In Mongolia, however, the natives certainly did not 
take our motor cars stoically. They were frightened 
nearly to death. Whenever we neared a Mongol village 
we would see ponies dashing away, their riders beating 
them in a frenzy of fear. And those same riders were 
always men. Only women and children remained in the 
yurts when we arrived. As Shackelford, our photographer, 
said, the Mongol's motto is "Save the men, to hell with 
the women and children." In one village a woman who 
was kneeling on the ground holding a huge dog, became 
violently nauseated from sheer fright when she saw 
Walter Granger. I never ceased teasing Walter about 
that. Another time as we dashed up to a yurt two women 
met us at the door, spreading out a felt mat and offering 
us a pitcher of milk. The younger was the only really 
beautiful woman I saw in all Mongolia. When they 
learned that we were friendly they cried on each other's 
shoulders in relief. They confessed that they had expected 
to be killed at once. 

The men who had fled would drift slowly back, when 
they saw that murder wasn't to be done, wearing rather 

95 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



sheepish expressions. And yet the Mongol isn't a coward. 
He is "a first class fighting man" and when he starts 
anything he is pretty likely to see it through to a finish. 
But a motor car is something he never dreamed of and 
can't understand. Coming with such a rush and roar I 
don't wonder that it is terrifying. 

The Chinese call them chi chur, "wind carts/' and 
the Mongols always supposed that it was the whirling 
fan sucking in air which made the car move. Our favorite 
sport was to wait until a group was closely packed about 
the front of the car watching the fan and then to sound 
the horn. The results were invariably satisfactory na- 
tives tumbling over on their backs and flying in all 
directions. But the Mongols enjoy a joke, even upon 
themselves, and it all contributed to good feeling toward 
the members of the Expedition. 

The Mongol reaction to our Victrola was interesting. 
A musical record got no results because it was simply 
a noise our music doesn't sound like music to them. 
But when we put on a talking record things happened. 
The sound of a human voice coming out of the box 
started them off in a panic at first. When they found it 
was harmless they would sit for hours listening to it. 

It is always interesting when an explorer meets people 
who have never seen a white man. Of course one can 
see how they act but what they really think is difficult to 
know. I always expected that they would be tremendously 
impressed and mystified by cameras, watches, compasses, 
and gadgets of that sort. But it doesn't work that way 
really. Among the first natives I met who had never seen 
a white man were the wild Lolos of Yunnan Province 'way 

96 



, 




F^;f ; m| ( s 

3 mn< ,#; S 



Wif'* "a s ^ 

L'Y^iiliiil S3 





M 

<: 

Q 



W 
W 

a 



SUPERSTITION 



Tip on the frontier of eastern Tibet. We dropped into 
their village one morning literally out of the clouds. 
Down from a sixteen-thousand-foot mountain pass we 
straggled after a freezing night on the very summit. 

The Lolos lived there in a secluded valley. They 
were shy but not frightened, for a Lolo doesn't scare 
easily. A fight is the breath of life to them. They were 
curious about us and all our things, of course. Watches 
were completely beyond their understanding and they 
weren't interested. Also cameras, at first. I took some 
photos of them but the subjects didn't recognize them- 
selves for they had never seen their own faces. It was 
only when I pointed to various articles of dress, which 
they were wearing and they saw them in the photographs 
that a dim understanding began to percolate into their 
primitive brains. 

Mirrors made a great hit and bottles were almost price- 
less. One man offered to trade his number two wife for 
an empty bottle. I said that I would only be interested 
in number one who was a rather attractive girl, but he 
explained that she was a very good worker and moreover 
was expecting a baby soon so he couldn't let her go 
because I'd be getting double value. 

What really gave them a kick were things which they 
knew something about, such as rifles. They had the most 
primitive flintlock guns which would only kill at 
about sixty yards. One day I shot a sheep with my Mann- 
licher 6.5 mm. high power rifle at three hundred yards. 
I showed them the tiny cartridge first and then shot the 
sheep. When they saw the animal drop and looked at the 

97 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



great hole in the side torn by the mushroom bullet, they 
could hardly believe their eyes. 

My high leather boots they loved and a rubber rain 
coat impressed them beyond words. Actually to pour 
water on a cloth without its being wet was magic. Field 
glasses, of course, are a never-ending source of wonder to 
all natives everywhere. The Chinese call them the chen li 
yen y "thousand-mile eyes/' 

It all boils down to the very simple and natural fact 
that the only things by which they are impressed are 
those which they can understand, and which have to do 
with their own lives. Incomprehensible things are either 
frightening or are as uninteresting to them as the Ein- 
stein Theory of Relativity is to the average person. 

But my actual body was always a source of wonder. 
I am blond and have blue eyes. Most Orientals have 
brown eyes. When the Lolos discovered that I was real 
and could talk and eat and breathe and laugh just as they 
could, they gave themselves up to finding out just what 
sort of a being I really was. With eyes as light-colored as 
mine, they couldn't believe that I could see properly. 
It was a tremendous surprise when they discovered that 
I wasn't blind. Of course my face was so tanned by wind 
and sun that it was almost as dark as theirs. But when 
I showed them the white skin of my body and legs they 
simply gasped. And what a hit I made with the women! 

As a matter of fact natives themselves have some 
things that to us seem mysterious. We hear a lot about 
the "grapevine telegraph" the strange methods by which 
natives communicate with each other over long distances. 
Even in a prison I'm told information seems to percolate 

98 



SUPERSTITION 

through the walls and certainly I know it does in a natu- 
ral history museum. Just try to keep anything secret in 
The American Museum of Natural History! I'm the 
Director and I know that it can't be done. How it works 
in a prison I don't know and I hope that I won't find 
out from personal experience. I may discover the secret 
in my own institution but I doubt it. But I can tell you 
how it works in the Gobi Desert, and there isn't any- 
thing occult about it. No "talking drums" as in Africa- 
just horseflesh and curiosity. 

Wells are the great meeting places in the desert. Here 
natives gather to water their sheep and goats and horses 
and camels. It takes a long time, for the water has to be 
pulled up hand over hand in a single skin bucket. Per- 
haps half a dozen families may gather at the well. If a 
Mongol happens to be passing four or five miles away 
he rides over to the well to gossip and hear the news. 
Coming from all points of the compass anything that has 
happened is carried in as many directions when the na- 
tives leave. If it is something really unusual one of the 
men is sure to ride to the nearest yurt to spread the news. 
That may be thirty or forty miles away but the Mongols 
have little to do and a choice bit of gossip is more than 
incentive enough. In an extraordinarily short time any- 
thing that is happening on the desert is carried hundreds 
of miles. 

Once when I was three hundred miles from the main 
trail between Kalgan and Urga I profited by it myself. 
I heard of a motor car that had been seen going fast 
across the desert carrying a man tied hand and foot in 
the back seat. This was just two days after the car had 

99 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



passed. The Mongols didn't know what it was all about 
but I did. It happened to be the end of a drama which 
had begun while I was in Urga. 

An American, Williams by name, an employee of a 
trading firm, had arrived in Urga with his wife and child. 
In the city at the time was an Austrian named Kunhardt 
who was a typical bad man, suspected by the Mongols 
and their Russian advisors of half a dozen murders. Kun- 
hardt was a prisoner at large in the city while the Mon- 
gols were collecting evidence against him. One night he 
got Williams drunk and induced him to sign a paper 
stating that he, Williams, pledged his own life and that 
of his wife and child, for Kunhardt's return if the latter 
were allowed to go to Kalgan. Kunhardt left. Poor 
Williams was in a bad mess. The Mongols would not 
allow him to leave Urga to bring back Kunhardt who had 
no intention of returning to eventual execution. Williams 
was advised to escape from Urga and get Kunhardt, which 
he did with the aid of a German chauffeur. 

In Kalgan the two men kidnaped Kunhardt, tied 
him securely and started across the desert for Urga. Dur- 
ing the ride Kunhardt complained of the tightness of his 
bonds and the ropes were loosened just enough to enable 
him to slip his hands free. Williams and the German 
were in the front seat. Kunhardt made a sudden leap, 
snatching at a knife in Williams' belt but he saw him 
coming in the windshield just in time. Kunhardt was 
bound tighter than ever and the day after arriving in 
Urga he died of gangrene in his arms and legs. 

Williams was received with open arms by the Mon- 
gols. He had returned of his own free will bringing Kun- 
100 



SUPERSTITION 



hardt with him. Kunhardt was conveniently dead and 
that saved the authorities the trouble of shooting him. 
Every one was happy. I was particularly so, for Kunhardt 
had murdered a Danish friend of mine by the name of 
Olufsen and I had sworn to shoot him on sight. 



1O1 



CHAPTER VII 



/. McKenzie Young Explorer 

YEARS ago Admiral Peary said to me, 'The three most 
important qualities which an explorer must have are 
loyalty, unselfishness and dependability/' 

As leader of many expeditions, I have found that 
Peary was right. I have selected my men always with 
those characteristics in view. Once I refused against con- 
tinued pressure to take a man with a brilliant scientific 
record because he was selfish. He was one of the two best 
men in the world for his job except in that one particular. 

Another man whom I should have liked to take was 
ruled out because I knew that he never would obey orders 
if he did not approve of them. The leader of an expedi- 
tion is responsible not only for the success of the work 
but for the lives and safety of his whole staff. Presumably 
he knows more about the job than any one else. His men 
never should go unless they believe him fitted to be a 
leader by experience and temperament. Once in the field, 
his authority must be absolute. I don't mean that he 
should not consult with his men. He should hear all views 
and consider them carefully. But the final decision must 
be his and the men must recognize the fact. 

I have had some wonderful men with me in the desert. 
Men who would die for me if necessary; who trusted me 
so implicitly that no matter what I asked they were 
102 



J. MCK.ENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

willing to do it, believing that behind it all there was a 
good and sufficient reason. 

One of the best of these was McKenzie Young, soldier, 
adventurer and my friend. This is a sketch of his life and 
his tragic death. Kipling might have written his poem 
"The Men That Don't Fit In" for Mac. Restless, a wan- 
derer, searching for adventure and always finding it. 

Once I said to him, "Mac, why don't you settle down? 
A rolling stone gathers no moss, you know/' 

"Who wants moss, anyway," said he. 

And that was true. Moss and Mac Young never could 
go together. The story I am telling you now I heard from 
Mac in bits as we rode together across the Gobi Desert 
or slept at night on some lonely peak of the Altai Moun- 
tains. 

Mac's father is a charming white-haired Scotch 
clergyman, and his mother is everything a mother should 
be. Mac's early days were spent in Pittsburgh, but he was 
in school in Canada when the world went mad in 1914. 
One by one his friends enlisted. Mac couldn't stay away. 
He obtained a commission in the Canadian forces. But 
he wasn't sent across to France where he wanted to go. 
A general who was in charge of recruiting took him as 
his aide. Mac was handsome as an Adonis, and charming 
in personality. For months he fretted at his job. Finally 
he could stand it no longer. 

"General, when do I go across?" 

"You don't go. You are too valuable to me here. I 
need you," was the answer. 

"I didn't enlist to fight the war in Canada," Mac told 
me. "I damned well wasn't going to be stuck as aide to 

103 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



a superannuated old general. So I deserted and joined an 
outfit then on the way to France. In England I arrived 
under arrest/' 

Court-martialed, the sentence of the presiding judge 
was: "You shall be sent to the front at once, I admire 
your spirit, but deplore your judgment. You never again 
can hold the King's commission." 

To France Mac went. His outfit was sent immediately 
to the front. Mac had a day and a half in the trenches. 
Attacking at dawn just as they went over the top, he 
stopped a piece of shrapnel in the leg. Back to the hospital 
base; then to England to recover. 

Again in France and again wounded almost at once. 
England a second time, spending long weeks in a hos- 
pital. Back to France, this time as one of a battery of six- 
inch howitzers. During a year of fighting the big guns, 
Mac had the awful experience of being buried in a dug- 
out by the explosion of a thirteen-inch shell. He got out 
just alive, the only one of his battery to survive. 

"That was worse than being wounded," he said. 
"There was something terrifying about it. I felt like a 
rat in a hole. I couldn't stand a thing like that again." 

When the United States joined the Allies in 1917 Mac 
wanted to transfer to the flying corps of the American 
army. But the Canadians didn't want to lose him. He 
had risen to the rank of top sergeant and that was as high 
as he could go. But he persisted and finally got his trans- 
fer. He was in air training when the war ended. 

Back in America, Mac went into a bank. A bank 
of all places, for a seeker of adventure! Of course he 
couldn't stick it very long. So he wandered northward 
104 



J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

to Canada, lured by the legends of the Northwest 
Mounted Police. But it wasn't what he hoped it would 
be. He was too valuable at headquarters. For several years 
he was a "mountie" but did not reenlist. 

There at the edge of the great country stretching 
northward to the Arctic Ocean tales came down of trap 
pers and fur traders in the Mackenzie River region. Mac 
and two of his buddies decided to seek their fortunes in 
the north. None of them knew much about trapping but 
they could learn. They did learn too and it was a bitter 
experience during a long winter. They got plenty of furs, 
but Indians stole a cache of food. They struggled to a 
trading post just on the verge of complete starvation. The 
trader did not run true to the traditions of the north. 
In return for enough food to take them out he made 
them give him their best furs. At last they arrived in 
Seattle and the remaining skins were sold. Eight hundred 
dollars apiece was the net profit. 

Of course they had a night of celebration. Until I had 
been on a long cruise myself and away from civilization 
for many months I never could understand why sailors 
at the end of a voyage want to raise Cain and spend every 
cent of money they have worked so hard to make. I 
found out because that was just what I wanted to do. 
Every shop looked enticing; every girl was beautiful; all 
music was intoxicating. The contrast and the sudden 
change upsets one's sense of values. You are happy to be 
back and you have to show it or burst. It is a natural 
human outlet, just as a volcano explodes when too much 
steam has accumulated. 

Mac awoke next morning in a hotel with all his 

105 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



money gone. He never knew just what happened or how 
he got there but the fact remained that he did not have 
a nickel. It was one of Seattle's grayest days, than which 
nothing can be grayer. Mac was hungry, his head ached 
like the devil, his spirits were far, far below zero. He 
passed a Marine Corps recruiting station "Join the 
Marines and see the world." 

"Well," thought Mac, "I can always go back to the 
army." 

"What's your experience?" asked the recruiting officer. 
"Four years of the war. Big guns. Six-inch howitzers." 
"Sure, we want you." 

"What post is farthest from the U. S. A.?" asked Mac. 
"Peking, China, the Legation Guard." 
"All right. I'll join if you 11 send me there. But you've 
got to promise. China for me." 

So as an enlisted man for three years Mac joined the 
U. S. Marine Corps. But he didn't get to China at once. 
A station on the Pacific coast, training men to handle ar- 
tillery, was where he landed first. As usual, he was too 
valuable; they didn't want to let him go. 

But Mac held them to their promise and one brilliant 
day in autumn he arrived in Peking. Colonel (later Gen- 
eral) Hal Dunlap was in command. Hal was one of my 
most intimate friends. We shared a temple together, 
which rejoiced in the name of "The Temple of the High 
Spirited Insects." Colonel Dunlap soon discovered that 
Mac was an expert motor mechanic, promoted him to 
Corporal and put him in charge of all the Legation Guard 
automobiles and trucks. I saw Mac often at the Insects 
temple. I needed a man to take charge of our cars on 
1 06 



J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

the second expedition to the Gobi Desert. Colonel Dun- 
lap suggested Mac as I hoped he would. We got him 
assigned on detached duty to the Expedition and thus 
began our friendship. 

For years Mac and I worked together in the field, shar- 
ing the joys and disappointments, the hardships and the 
dangers of an explorer's life. In Peking he lived with me 
at the Expedition's headquarters, having a courtyard of 
his own with its surrounding apartments. 

While the Expedition was in the main camp Mac 
and I used to take a car and explore the advance country, 
seeking new regions in which to work. Thousands of 
miles we traveled together alone. I remember one time 
we had to drive from the very center of the Gobi Desert 
to Urga four hundred miles away over unexplored coun- 
try. It was the 24th of May when we started, warm and 
beautiful. That night a blizzard struck us. We pitched 
the tent and crawled into the fur sleeping bags. Our 
clothes were piled on the ground beside us. We were 
wet and cold and those warm dry bags felt like a bit of 
heaven. 

When I opened my eyes in the morning I could see 
only a white blanket. My body felt as though some one 
were sitting on my chest. It was several minutes before 
I realized that I was completely buried in a snowdrift. 
Eventually I got my head out of the white mass. The tent 
was packed with snow in a long drift sloping up from 
door to back. Mac was nowhere in sight. Suddenly the 
drift burst open and Mac's head emerged. 

How we did laugh and curse as we dug our cold wet 
clothes out of the snow and got them on our shivering 

107 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



grene and certain death would follow if the black stumps 
were left. 

Mac said, "No, I'd rather die than go the rest of my 
life with only two thumbs. I do everything that makes 
living for me worth while with my hands/' 

Doctor Harold Loucks, the Expedition's surgeon, ex- 
amined him carefully. His blood was pure, his body as 
hard and fit as a trained athlete, 

"Mac, there is just a chance that I can save most of 
your fingers. It is one in a thousand. But it will mean 
weeks of pain/' 

"Let's go/' said Mac with a grin. 

He did not escape the pain. It went on for weary 
months. When I returned his hands were swathed in 
bandages. Night after night I would find him pacing the 
courtyard. Together we would walk in the moonlight 
until from sheer exhaustion he could sleep. But no one 
ever heard Mac complain. 

"I'm better," was the invariable reply to his legion of 
sympathizers. All Peking paid homage to his splendid 
courage. Seven months later when the last operation had 
been performed, only the ends of four fingers were taken 
away, and he could use his hands almost as well as ever. 
The next year we went to the Gobi. In the autumn 
Mac and I were coming down alone in two cars. We had 
been warned that the trail swarmed with bandits. When 
we passed the Mongol village belonging to our caravan 
men, one of the boys ran out to signal us. He said that 
the previous night thirty brigands had killed two Chi- 
nese and robbed their cars only ten miles south on the 
road. They might still be there; he did not know, 
no 



J. McKENzm YOUNG EXPLORER 

Mac and I went on with our rifles and revolvers ready 
for action. We weren't asking for trouble, but we cer- 
tainly did not intend to be driven off the road by thirty 
Chinese bandits. The cars had been held up near a mud 
house which had long been a brigand rendezvous. When 
we arrived, all was quiet and the place seemed deserted. 
But that was the usual procedure and we expected a fusil- 
lade of shots any second. Nothing happened, however, 
and we reached Kalgan without difficulty. A week later 
Mac went back. He drove one car and Liu Hsi-ku, one 
of our Chinese, the other. I had a presentiment that some- 
thing would happen and asked Mac to be particularly 
careful on the road. Two days of rain had made the trail 
like grease. He fought mud all the way where we had 
driven over a hard dry terrain. 

On the second morning two Mongol children told him 
that bandits were robbing a caravan just ahead. It was the 
familiar place of the mud house. The ground was so soft 
that Mac could not leave the trail and circle over the sur- 
rounding hills. He either had to go on or turn back. 

"To hell with them/' he said to Liu. "We're not 
going back through all that mud. If they want a fight 
they can have it." 

The mud house appeared in the valley, half obscured 
by a train of oxcarts. Several men were going through 
the loads. Mac drove down the hill followed by Liu. He 
had nearly passed the house when from behind a mud 
wall thirty yards away three Chinese opened fire with 
Luger pistols. Bullets sang all about him, but he wasn't 
touched. He slowed down, swung about in the seat, and 
took a snap shot at one fellow who was doing the most 

in 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



effective shooting. His bullet struck a small stone in the 
mud wall an inch from the man's head. Either the steel 
jacket or fragments of rock tore off half the bandit's face. 
He fell backward, but the other two kept on firing. 

Mac dared not take his hands from the wheel, for the 
car was skidding dangerously. Holding his rifle in one 
hand like a pistol, he fired three shots. One of them 
nicked another bandit. 

In the meantime a dozen brigands, standing near their 
horses on the other side of the road, began shooting with 
rifles and pistols. Some had mounted and were riding 
after him when Mac slowed down, took a good aim, and 
killed a horse. That ended the matter. Mac was bad 
medicine. The other bandits galloped away. 

When the Expedition returned a month later, they 
learned that there had been eleven brigands in the mud 
house. They expected an easy time when the two cars 
approached and got the surprise of their lives. They 
told the road police, who most of the time are bandits 
themselves, that they didn't know it was the "American 
Men of the Dragon Bones" as we were called, or they 
would never have opened fire. From previous experience 
they knew that our men all could shoot much too straight. 

Unselfishness was one of Mac's most outstanding vir- 
tues. Time after time in crossing the desert together, 
when water was short; when the sun had turned the sand 
into a glaring furnace; when our tongues were swollen 
and our mouths like cotton, I have had to watch Mac to 
make sure that he took his share. I have seen him put the 
112 



J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

canteen to his lips, make gurgling noises and wipe his 
lips. 

"God, that was good. Have a real drink now, Roy." 

"Mac, you infernal liar, you never took a swallow. 
You can't fool me. I was watching your throat." 

"Well, what's the difference? You need it more than 
I do. Your tongue is so thick you can hardly talk. See, 
I'm much better/' 

It takes a man and deep affection to do that sort of 
thing. Did you ever suffer from thirst? I hope you never 
will. It's pretty awful. Starvation is nothing compared 
to lack of water. 

I have slept with Mac on the summit of the Altai 
Mountains when the cold bit like a knife and waked 
to find myself wrapped in our single blanket while he 
lay shivering without a cover. Those are the things that 
one never can forget; the things that endear a man to 
his fellows as nothing else can. 

Mac and I had all sorts of experiences together. His 
insatiable desire for adventure and his priceless sense 
of humor made us inseparable companions both in the 
field and out of it. 

We were in Urga together in 1925 after the death 
of the Hutukhtu or Living Buddha of Mongolia. We 
learned that special ceremonies were to be conducted 
upon the installation of his embalmed body in a great 
temple. We wanted to go, but it wasn't allowed. No for- 
eigner would ever be admitted to the sacred precincts 
of the Holy of Holies. A young Mongol friend of ours, 
Dalai, said that he would get us in if we dressed as na- 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



tives. He was taking a big chance in doing it for certainly 
we all would have been killed if it had been discovered. 

Mac and I were both so brown from the sun that 
we needed only a little stain to make us as dark as any 
Mongol. Dalai borrowed some clothes and we sallied 
forth. Several hundred Mongols were already in the 
temple when we arrived. To a priest at the door Dalai 
explained that Mac and I were Mongols from the Alashan 
Desert who had journeyed to Urga, like many other 
pilgrims for this ceremony; that we were both deaf and 
dumb, a not very uncommon thing in Mongolia. The 
priest welcomed us courteously and we passed inside. 
I was a little worried about my blue eyes Mac's were 
gray but the temple was lighted only by candles and in 
the half darkness they got by. 

The danger made it a thrilling adventure although 
the ceremony itself was not very different from what I 
had seen in other temples. At the far end of the room, 
facing the entrance, sat my old friend the Hutukhtu on 
a golden throne. He looked natural enough to speak ex- 
cept that he was only half his normal size and was com- 
pletely gilded with gold leaf. His features were perfect. 
It was the finest embalming that I have ever seen. 

On the right side of the throne sat a high priest 
dressed in a gorgeous robe of gold thread with a yellow 
Roman helmet-like hat. In front were two double rows 
of seated lamas facing each other. Between the pauses of 
the high priest's prayers the voices of the seated lamas 
swelled into a barbaric chant broken by the clash of 
cymbals. The air was heavy with burning incense. 

Mac and I kneeled with the others, touching our 
114 




MCKENZIE YOUNG AND PET ANTELOPE 




*&g 



TVyrmsir,nT T>RAWS MAP IN THE SAND OF WESTERN TRAILS 



J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

foreheads to the floor between our outstretched palms. 
It was a devilish uncomfortable position and I kept peek- 
ing out at Dalai hoping that we could get up and get 
out. But Dalai was immovable. We stayed for half an 
hour doubled up like jackknives until I thought my neck 
would break. Then I felt a poke from Dalai's foot and 
the three of us slowly sat up. Boy, what a relief it was! 
Other Mongols were rising too and we joined a group 
which drifted out of the temple into the courtyard. Then 
each of us had to whirl a dozen prayer wheels, murmur- 
ing the Tibetan invocation Om mani padne om, "The 
Jewel in the Lotus/' Thousands of Mongols were stream- 
ing into the temple as we left, for the ceremonies con- 
tinued all day long. 

Back at Dalai's house we washed the stain from our 
faces and hands and pulled on our own clothes. It had 
been an interesting adventure and we had been where 
no other foreigners had ever gone. Our lives would not 
have been worth a plugged nickel had we been recog- 
nized. Of course that was what made it fun. 

Mac and I were invited to dinner a few days after the 
temple ceremony by the Prime Minister, a fine old Mon- 
gol whom I had known for several years. He lived in a 
large clean yurt pitched on the bank of the Tola River 
not far from the Living Buddha's palace. It was a typical 
Mongol dinner. In the center of the yurt was a huge 
iron bowl of boiled mutton. We were seated on the 
ground facing the door as guests of honor. According to 
custom the host reached into the pot and presented to me 

"5 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the skinned head of the sheep. I knew what was coming 
and mentally braced myself. The two great eyes stared up 
glassily. I had to dig one out with the point of my knife, 
pop it into my mouth and make appropriate sounds of 
gastronomic enjoyment. My stomach rebelled but I had 
to go through it or mortally offend our host. I got the 
infernal eye out at last and crammed it into my mouth; 
then passed the skinned head to Mac. He looked as 
though he was about to bolt for the door. 

"Go to it, old timer. Dig into it," I murmured out of 
the corner of my mouth. 

Mac dug and choked, but managed to keep it in. I 
watched my chance and when the others weren't looking 
transferred the wretched eyeball from mouth to pocket. 
Mac's followed the same course. Then came the next 
ordeal. The tail of the sheep, a mass of solid white fat, 
was presented to us. But that wasn't so bad. We only were 
required to slice off a chunk and pass it on to the next 
man. These preliminaries ended, we could dip into the 
pot ourselves and personally select the portion of the 
sheep's anatomy we wished to eat. 

The drink was buttered tea, like that of Tibet. Boiled 
tea in which butter, none too fresh, had been churned. 
After dinner we drank kumiss, fermented mare's milk. 
Not too bad, kumiss. Slightly acid in taste, cool and rather 
refreshing, but packing an awful wallop if one drinks 
too much of it. On our way home Mac and I solemnly 
produced the sheep's eyes from our respective pockets and 
with the greatest satisfaction threw them as hard as we 
could against a stone slab. -They spattered beautifully! 
116 



J. MCKENZIE YOUNG EXPLORER 

Mac returned to New York from China in 1931. The 
work of the Expedition was temporarily suspended and 
I remained to close the headquarters. In mid-August he 
started to drive alone in his car from New York to Cali- 
fornia. In Nevada he met two nice-looking young men 
who asked him for a lift. They said they were on their 
way to college. Mac never refused a kindness to any 
human being. Of course he agreed. Near Lovelock they 
suggested that it would be well to fill his water bottle 
from a spring beside the road. While he sat in the car 
one of the men doped the canteen and offered him a 
drink. A short time later the drugged water made him 
so sleepy that he could not go on. 

"I guess I've got a touch of the sun," said he. 'Til 
have to draw over to the side of the road and sleep 

awhile." 

"We're sorry, but never mind. It is only three miles 
to Lovelock; we'll walk. Thanks a lot for the ride." 

Mac got out and extended his hand to say good-by 
to one of the boys. The other stepped behind him and 
that was the last he knew. Hours later he was found 
beside the road unconscious and was taken to a hospital. 
His money was gone and there was a great bruise on his 

head. 

We have been able to get only fragments of what 
happened after that. For three days he remained in the 
hospital and left much against the doctor's wishes. Twice 
we heard of him from friends in Denver and San Fran- 
cisco, each one saying that he complained of unendurable 
headaches. On September grd his body was found in his 
car in a lonely lane near Eureka, California, with a bullet 

117 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



from his own gun in the back of his head. He had been 
dead three days. 

Murder or suicide? The coroner reported it to be 
the latter. I was in China at the time but I obtained a 
copy of the proceedings after considerable difficulty, and 
it certainly was a most casual inquiry. Just how a man 
can shoot himself in the back of the head and still have 
his revolver tightly clutched in his hand and all perfectly 
arranged, I fail to see. 

Unless Mac was temporarily insane from the pain in 
his head I know that he never would have taken his own 
life. He was only thirty-seven years old and had every- 
thing to live for. Mac always laughed at life, taking the 
good with the bad, the thick with the thin; never 
complaining when Fate played him a scurvy trick. Kind- 
hearted, generous to a fault, loyal, affectionate, sympa- 
thetic, faithful to his friendships that was J. McKenzie 
Young. His place in the Expedition never can be filled. 
When we return to Mongolia something vital which we 
loved will be gone from our life on the desert. 



118 



CHAPTER VIII 



War in Peking 

IN THE first half of this book I have discussed in general 
terms modern intensive exploration the exploration of 
today and of tomorrow. The remaining chapters give a 
concrete example of such exploration as we conducted it 
in the Gobi Desert during 1928 and 1930. Our work was 
carried on with a background of war, banditry and po- 
litical intrigue which made it exceedingly difficult. The 
details doubtless will not be the same in other countries, 
but during the present disturbed condition of world 
affairs, political barriers are almost certain to present 
themselves wherever the modern explorer wishes to work. 
The leader of a big expedition will usually find that over- 
coming diplomatic obstacles is infinitely more difficult 
and more nerve racking than conducting the field work. 
However, it is all a part of the job and cannot be escaped. 

And now to take up the story of the Central Asiatic 
Expeditions where it was ended in "On the Trail of 
Ancient Man." x 

When the Expedition returned to Peking from the 
Gobi Desert in the autumn of 1925, the scientific staff dis- 
persed to various parts of the world. Doctors Granger and 
Nelson prepared for a winter along the Yangtze River; 
the former to continue his studies in the fossil pits near 

i G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1926. 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Wanhsien, Szechuan; the latter to work along the river 
banks examining the numerous caves which we hoped 
would give evidence of the occupation of primitive man. 
George Olsen fitted out a laboratory at headquarters in 
which to prepare the fossil collections, with a staff of na- 
tive assistants. It was imperative that I should return to 
America to obtain additional financial support for the 
Expedition and to stimulate public interest by lectures 
and writing. Affairs in Peking were left in charge of J. 
McKenzie Young, assisted by Norman Lovell. 

The 1925 Expedition, when we had a foreign staff of 
fourteen men in addition to twenty-six natives, Chinese 
and Mongol, had shown me that it was too large. Our 
mobility was sacrificed and it became unwieldy for the 
country in which we were operating. It required too 
much gasoline to move, and too much food to maintain 
the party. I had come to the conclusion that a foreign 
staff of ten was the maximum number that we could use 
effectively. I intended to organize the 1926 Expedition 
on that basis. 

Just after I had sailed for America in October, 1925, 
the ship's radio picked up news of a civil war which had 
started near Shanghai. It caused me no worry because 
Shanghai is a long way from Peking and I did not believe 
that the war would spread northward. Even if it did, the 
northern Chinese never fought in the winter. I thought 
that it would last for a few weeks and then be settled as 
usual in the Chinese manner, without much bloodshed. 

But it was just that year when things began to change 
in China and tradition and "good form" in the conduct 
of wars were completely smashed. The trouble did spread 
12O 



WAR IN PEKING 



to the north like a flame and lasted all winter. Some of 
the bitterest fighting was in December and January near 
Tientsin. The second breach of "good form" was that 
they killed a good many people. Thousands of wounded 
poured into the city, and the countryside was strewn with 
dead. The railroad transport of all North China was 
paralyzed; for weeks no train ran between Peking and 
Tientsin, although according to the 1900 Protocol the 
foreign Powers have the right to maintain communica- 
tions from the capital to the sea. Food was expensive and 
difficult to obtain. It was not a question of how soon a 
thing could be done, but whether it could be done at all. 
Therefore McKenzie Young had his hands more than full 
with preparations for the spring Expedition. 

To buy tons of rice and flour, hundreds of pounds of 
sugar, coffee, beans and other food supplies in Peking was 
impossible. They had to be purchased in Tientsin but 
that port is eighty miles from the capital and no trains 
were running. Four thousand gallons of gasoline had 
been specially packed for us by the Standard Oil Com- 
pany but, with the food, it was all in Tientsin. 

Just about the time everything was ready, renewed 
hostilities began. Gradually the "People's Army" of the 
so-called "Christian General," Feng Yu-hsiang, were 
pushed back toward Peking. The only communication 
with Tientsin was by motors which were allowed to pass 
through the lines when there was no fighting actually on 
the road. 

Since our caravan must start in March at the latest, 
Young decided to bring the gas and supplies up to Peking 
by motor. It was a laborious and very expensive method, 

121 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



but there was no other way. For three weeks Norman 
Lovell made a round trip every day. Leaving Tientsin 
early in the morning, he drove the eighty miles over what 
is only by courtesy called a motor road, and arrived in 
Peking at noon. While he was eating luncheon the car 
was unloaded and he was off again on the return trip to 
Tientsin before one o'clock. 

During these days of transport he had many exciting 
experiences. The road swarmed with soldiers of one side 
or the other and a more annoying collection of uni- 
formed brigands would be difficult to find anywhere. He 
carried a large American flag on the car but this did not 
prevent his being fired on time after time. There was a 
"no man's land 1 ' of ten or twelve miles between the op- 
posing lines, and entering or leaving this area usually 
was attended with a good deal of danger. The advance 
and rear guards in the trenches not infrequently took a 
flying shot at the car just to see if they could hit it. Some- 
times there was genuine suspicion that it might contain 
a machine gun party of the opposite side and the treat- 
ment Lovell received was distinctly unpleasant. Of course 
he would be stopped and questioned every few miles, but 
cigarettes and a plentiful supply of calling cards usually 
were sufficient to get him through. 

Just before I reached China in March four new cars 
for the Expedition arrived from Detroit, for our fleet 
was to consist of eight Dodge Brothers cars. Lovel] with 
three Chinese chauffeurs drove them to Peking. Unfor- 
tunately they happened to start on the day that the so- 
called "People's Army" were retreating along the motor 
road. Thousands of troops and lines of carts blocked the 



WAR IN PEKING 



way. Our cars were heavily loaded with gasoline but the 
soldiers literally took possession of them. So many men 
piled upon each car that they could hardly pull even in 
low gear. The springs were absolutely flat and had they 
not been designed for especially rough work they cer- 
tainly must have been ruined. The soldiers were very 
ugly and the fact that the cars bore American flags and 
that the road was a recognized avenue of traffic for auto- 
biles made not the slightest difference. Lovell's feat in 
getting our gasoline and supplies to Peking is in itself 
sufficient testimony to his courage and tact. 

It was the first week in March before our equipment 
was assembled at the Expedition headquarters in Peking 
and the caravan should have left by mid-February. When 
the first war rumors developed in the early winter Young 
had sent word to Merin, the Mongol caravan leader, to 
take our camels far out into the desert where they would 
be safe. Feng Yu-hsiang was confiscating every cart, mule, 
horse and camel within a hundred-mile radius of Kalgan, 
and the American flag which floated over Merin's tent 
would not have protected our camels from the soldiers of 
the "Christian General," or any others. 

Meantime all the railroad cars on the Peking-Suiyuan 
Railroad had been seized by the military. It was virtually 
impossible to move a pound of freight to Kalgan even by 
paying the most exorbitant "squeeze" for the use of a 
freight car. Sometimes a merchant did manage to get one 
started from Peking, but it was usually side-tracked at 
Nankou, halfway to Kalgan, there to remain indefinitely- 
Young had exhausted every means to get our supplies 
to Kalgan, without success, when I arrived in Tientsin 

123 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



on March 27, 1926, with J. B. Shackelford, the Expedi- 
tion photographer. There had been sharp fighting not 
far from Peking and the authorities were loath to allow 
Young to drive to Tientsin to bring us up. His trip down 
was comparatively uneventful for those exciting days, al- 
though he was halted and questioned a dozen times by 
soldiers of both sides. When we returned two days later 
the road had been mined in fourteen places by Chang 
Tso-ling, as preparation for a counterattack by the "Peo- 
ple's Army." There were thousands of soldiers but we 
had no trouble although we became a bit jumpy when 
driving over the mines which we hoped were buried 
deeply enough not to explode from the impact of our 
motor. 

A week after our arrival in Peking I managed to get 
two freight cars for Kalgan through the influence of Mr. 
C. S. Liu, Director General of Railways. He sent word 
at four o'clock in the afternoon that they were available 
but said that we must load them at once or they would be 
confiscated by the soldiers. We worked a good part of 
the night taking over the gas and supplies. One was a cov- 
ered steel car loopholed and bullet-marked from its use 
as a machine gun nest; the other was a flat car upon which 
we drove two motors and piled them about with cases. 
Young and Shackelford chaperoned the things to Kalgan 
without serious incident and returned to Peking. Word 
had been sent to Reverend Joel Eriksson, a Swedish mis- 
sionary who acted as our agent in Mongolia, to bring in 
the camels, and as soon as they arrived I expected to go 
with Young to see them started. 

In the meantime Peking had been having daily visita- 
124 



WAR IN PEKING 



tions from an aeroplane. Every morning promptly at ten 
o'clock the plane sailed out of the south, dropped a few 
bombs on the city and flew back again to Chang Tso-lin's 
lines. The roof of the Peking Hotel was the best place 
from which to see the show. Immediately "Bombing 
Breakfast" became the newest social diversion. A dozen 
guests would be invited to breakfast in the hotel at nine 
o'clock. At five minutes to ten they would adjourn to the 
roof, watch the plane do its stuff and then jump into 
motor cars to inspect the "scene of devastation/* As they 
were small bombs filled with black powder the damage 
was slight. Sometimes a coolie or two would be a casualty. 
They never killed any soldiers. 

However, they did have the American Legation staff 
pretty worried because it is situated very close to the 
Chen Men Railroad station. Several times the bombers 
tried to drop their "eggs" on the trains and missed by 
many hundreds of yards. Finally a message was sent to 
Chang Tso-lin to please cut it out, and he ordered his 
airmen to transfer their attentions to other parts of the 
city. 

On April isth I gave a bombing breakfast myself and 
was disgusted because the plane did not appear at the 
usual hour. It was the only day that it had missed and I 
felt like sending an official protest to Chang at having 
spoiled my party. At eleven o'clock I went with my Num- 
ber One Boy, Lo, to the Hsichihmen railway station in 
the northwest city to make arrangements for sending the 
motors of our Expedition to Mongolia. Just as I drove 
into the broad plaza in front of the station a plane roared 
overhead. The pedestrians scattered, but a company of 

125 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



soldiers just marching out did not even glance up. Sud- 
denly a bomb landed with a terrific crash thirty yards 
to the right of us on the other side of a high mud wall. 
I stepped on the gas, hoping to get into the heavily roofed 
station for protection, but a second bomb landed just 
in front of the car. Since we were both going in the 
same direction I decided to let the plane win the race. 
Jumping out of the car I made for an armored train 
standing on the tracks. My Chinese Boy, Lo, flattened 
himself against a wall. With a dozen Chinese I crawled 
under the train and stretched out between the steel 
wheels parallel with the axle. Suddenly a bomb exploded 
with a deafening report not fifteen feet from my shelter. 
The iron fragments "pinged" against the car wheels like 
rain and I never knew how small I could make myself 
until that moment. A few seconds later two others crashed 
on the opposite side of the train. One iron slug came in 
at an angle and buried itself within two inches of my 
face. I dug it out and burned my fingers nicely as it was 
red-hot. 

All was quiet for a few minutes and I crawled out, 
thinking that the raid was ended. But the plane had only 
circled and was directly above us, very low. It was a 
small four-seater carrying two men. One of them was 
chucking out the bombs by hand over the side. Before 
I could duck back under the train a bomb exploded a 
few feet away, then another on the other side of the train. 
The place was a mess of flying gravel, chunks of iron 
and clouds of white smoke. In the midst of it a Chinese 
woman wandered out into the open space. I yelled at her 
to come under the train but she seemed dazed and 




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WAR IN PEKING 



wouldn't move. Just then the plane zoomed down again 
and dropped a bomb right in front of her. Her entire 
head suddenly disappeared as though it had been cut off 
by a knife. 

My Chinese Boy at last decided to obey my calls to 
come to the train. He had just scrambled in beside me 
when another bomb killed the four coolies who had been 
standing with him against the wall. The airmen evidently 
were trying to get that particular train for they dropped 
fourteen bombs within a few yards of it. But we were 
pretty well protected, for even if he had landed a direct 
hit, the bombs were too small to have wrecked the steel 
cars. 

We were having rather a lively time what with the 
noise and smoke and the groans of a dozen people who 
had been injured. Just beside a huge tank of the Standard 
Oil Company, which contained twenty-four thousand gal- 
lons of petroleum, was a primary school. A bomb went 
through the roof killing or injuring forty children. If the 
tank had been hit we would have had a terrible con- 
flagration. 

Finally the plane left and I went up to the station. 
We were no more than inside when the airmen returned 
and gave us another deluge. The vicinity of the railroad 
was such an unhealthy place that Lo and I made a dash 
for safety in the motor. It so happened that that was 
the only raid during which any considerable number of 
people were killed and that I was the only foreigner who 
ever was in real danger from the planes. The next day 
the foreign Legations sent emphatic protests to Chang 
Tso-lin and the raids ceased. 

127 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Not long after my bombing experience I got mixed 
up in the war again and pretty seriously too. This time 
it was with three members of the Central Asiatic Expedi- 
tions, Shackelford, Hill and Beckwith, and a captain of 
the U. S. Marine Corps. 

The night before I was dining with the American 
Minister when firing began just outside the city and we 
all adjourned to the roof of the Peking Hotel to watch 
the show. Machine guns showed in a steady stream of 
light along the southern horizon, punctuated by the wide 
flashes of heavy guns. The American Military Attache 
told us that Feng, who held Peking, had begun a new 
offensive and might even push Chang's army back to 
Tientsin. But the usual thing happened. One of Feng's 
generals was bought off by the opposing side and the ad- 
vance became a retreat. 

I had to get through the next day to Tientsin and 
thought that an American flag would give us immunity 
from fire. The gates of Peking were heavily guarded but 
the soldiers let us pass. Carts were jalready coming into 
the city loaded with grain, camp gear and soldiers. Cav- 
alry streamed by and then thousands upon thousands of 
infantry. They were retiring in good order and seemed 
most cheerful. An officer told me that Chang Tso-lin's 
troops had taken Tungchow, fourteen miles from Peking 
and were looting the city but that there was no fighting. 

We drove on slowly and eventually passed beyond 
the rear of the retreating army. For three or four miles 
the countryside was deserted, houses closed and all as 
quiet as the grave. We were five or six hundred yards 
from the ancient marble bridge at Tungchow when there 
128 



WAR IN PEKING 



was a sharp report and a pebble flew from beside the 
front wheel. 

"That was a shot/* said Shackelford. 

"I don't think it was/' I answered. 

"Don't you fool yourself/' said Hill. "It was a shot 
all right." 

A second later the argument was settled. We had just 
rounded a curve and were in sight of the marble bridge. 
It was surrounded by a mass of soldiers with a machine 
gun in their midst. As our car came in sight the gun 
opened up. The bullets were kicking up the dust just 
in front of us but it was aimed too low. The soldiers 
could see the American flag plainly enough but that made 
not the slightest difference. 

Fortunately at this particular spot the road was wide 
enough for the car to be turned and I backed around r in 
record time. 

"Every one down in the car," I yelled. 

Shack, who was in the front seat with me, got his 
head down but only inverted himself, for he is rather fat, 
and his rear extremity was completely exposed. He was 
just like the proverbial ostrich. The soldiers had elevated 
the gun and the bullets were buzzing like a swarm of 
bees above our heads. 

Forty yards down the road a sharp curve took us out 
of sight of the machine gun. The other men crouched 
in the bottom of the car. Since I was driving I could see 
all the fun. It was a pretty rough road but the spee- 
dometer showed fifty miles an hour as we went back. 
The ride became an exciting one. All the houses which 
had seemed so peaceful actually were occupied by the 

129 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



advance guards of Chang Tso-lin's soldiers. They had let 
us pass because of the American flag, but when they 
heard the firing in our rear and saw us returning at such 
a mad speed, they evidently thought that we were any- 
body's game. 

For three miles we ran the gauntlet of firing from 
both sides of the road. I would see a soldier standing with 
his rifle at the ready waiting until we came opposite. 
Then "bang" he would let us have it. Sometimes they 
fired in squads; sometimes singly. Most of them merely 
pointed their rifles at the car and the bullets struck just 
behind us. Two or three zipped in between my head and 
the windshield. 

There was a small temple just ahead and I saw a vil- 
lainous looking fellow standing at the ready waiting for 
us. Something seemed to tell me that he was dangerous. 
He brought his sights into line and the muzzle on me. 

"This one/' I thought, "will probably get me." 

My tummy took a nose dive. I ducked my head just 
as he fired and his bullet went through the brim of my 
hat. That was the closest call any of us had. I was afraid 
that one of the tires would be hit. At that speed we'd have 
turned over as sure as fate. But there was nothing to be 
done about it. I really had the best job because the others 
couldn't see what was going on, and driving kept me 
busy. 

Soon we approached three of Feng's soldiers the last 
men of his rear guard. 

"Perhaps it'll be safer for us if we stop and pick these 
men up," I suggested. 

My companions agreed, and when we drew alongside 
130 



WAR IN PEKING 



the soldiers we gave them a lift, letting them stand on the 
running board. But as we approached Feng's main body, 
our men became panicky, probably because they knew 
that a summary court-martial awaited them if their officers 
discovered that they had deserted their rear guard posi- 
tion. With our car going at twenty-mile speed, and with- 
out warning, one of them stepped off backwards. 

He fell to the road and a wheel ran over his hand. I 
stopped the car. The coarse gravel had acted like a grind- 
stone, shredding his hand horribly. I put on a hasty tour- 
niquet and offered to take him in to first aid, but he 
waved me away frantically. No officer would catch him! 

We went on, and soon had to slow up because of the 
straggling army of men. Soldiers began to jump on the 
car. In spite of my protests, more and more climbed on 
until we actually carried eighteen clinging men. Both 
running boards were jammed solid, others hung on the 
rear, two sat astraddle the hood, and their rifles were 
piled on the top. I couldn't see to drive. The car would 
barely crawl in low. Vainly I complained. These men 
spoke the Shantung dialect, which is difficult to under- 
stand. Then came the accident that set off the fireworks. 
One of the men precariously perched on the front of the 
hood fell off. A wheel ran over his leg and the heavy load 
plus the gravel mangled it badly. 

The Chinese have a great tendency to talk themselves 
into a rage. They yanked all of us out of the car, crowded 
close, and shouted and gesticulated themselves into hys- 
terical anger. Finally, with their tempers whipped to a 
white heat, they lined us up against the car and cocked 
their rifles. Things looked pretty bad. 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Just then an officer appeared. Fortunately, he could 
speak Mandarin Chinese and I explained what had hap- 
pened. 

He said, "I am a staff officer. I can't control these men. 
You must get off the road at once or you'll be killed. 
Drive down the bank there into the fields. I'll stay here 
until you are out of rifle shot." 

It was a difficult job to navigate over the plowed 
ground, but somehow we got to the gate of Peking and 
into the city. The experience affected each of us differ- 
ently. I had been so busy driving that there was no time 
to be scared; or at least not to give up to the feeling. I 
had got the other fellows into the jam and had to get 
them out. It was not until we were back in Peking that 
the reaction caught me. We had driven to the Club for 
all of us badly felt the need of a strong drink. My hands 
were shaking so that I actually couldn't hold a glass. I 
was trembling all over and felt awfully weak and sick. 

One of the other men who lived with me had been 
perfectly cool throughout the entire performance and 
afterward. At two o'clock the next morning he came to 
my room in violent hysterics. The nerves which he had 
kept under rigid control had suddenly snapped and for 
two hours I had a beautiful time getting him back to 
normal. 



132 



CHAPTER IX 



Attempts to Reach Mongolia 

THE day after our experience in trying to reach Tien- 
tsin, I decided to join Mac Young, who had gone to Kal- 
gan. At eight-thirty in the morning when we drove to 
the Hsichihmen we found the gate closed and sand- 
bagged. The soldiers said that no one could go out or 
enter the city. We made the rounds of the other gates 
and found them all heavily fortified. The streets were de- 
serted, the shops closed and a strange air of preparation 
for a great calamity pervaded the city. If the Fengtien 
troops forced the gates, Peking would certainly be looted. 
Every Chinese of political importance who could find a 
lodging had fled to the Legation Quarter. Most of these 
same men had been loudly demanding the abolition of 
Extra-territoriality and the dismissal of the Legation 
Guards but a few days earlier; yet at the first hint of dan- 
ger they dashed to the foreign Concessions as the only 
place of safety! This is what always happens. 

A good many foreigners who had cottages at the race 
course, seven miles west of the city, were caught outside 
the walls and had to remain there for several days in the 
midst of roving bands of soldiery. The first Secretary and 
the Counselor of the British Legation tried in vain to get 
the guards to open the gates. At last they found a part 
of the wall where loose bricks had been removed by 

133 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



smugglers. A number of Chinese were on top and when 
the foreigners produced a silver dollar a rope magically 
made its appearance. The diplomats were hauled uncere- 
moniously up the wall losing a certain amount of "face" 
but at least getting to their posts in the Legation. 

Notices were sent to all foreign residents in Peking 
by their respective Legations instructing them where to 
assemble in the event of extreme danger; green lights and 
guns were the designated signals. From the concentration 
points the foreigners would be escorted to the fortified 
Quarter by armed guards. 

We had a carefully thought-out plan for the protec- 
tion of the Expedition headquarters and the great quan- 
tity of valuable equipment in the compound. With 
machine guns posted on the roofs we would be able to 
present a pretty strong defense against any looters or 
even well-armed soldiery. All the men offered to remain 
with me and protect the house if necessary. 

The "City Fathers" did some sterling work in per- 
suading the Fengtien generals not to let their troops 
come into the city, urging that foreign complications 
would arise with the inevitable looting. The soldiers en- 
circled the walls but with the gates shut and sandbagged 
not a man was allowed inside. 

In the meantime the social life of Peking proceeded 
much as usual. The only fish we could get came from the 
lake in the Forbidden City, fruit was non-existent, and 
there was a shortage of fresh meat. However, nothing is 
allowed to interfere with dinners and dances, polo and 
tennis. 

The third evening of our siege I was amazed at the 

134 



ATTEMPTS TO REACH MONGOLIA 

arrival of Mr. and Mrs. W. Douglas Burden of New 
York. They had reached Tientsin a few days earlier and 
I telegraphed them to wait there until it was possible to 
bring them up. They had discovered that two men in a 
motor car were attempting to get through to Peking and 
took the chance of coming with them. Fortunately for 
them they picked up on the road the Fengtien general in 
command of the air forces whose car had broken down. 
He was one of the few men for whom the city gates could 
be opened. 

I was at the Chi Hua Men talking to the soldiers 
when they asked me to please draw my car to one side as 
a very important general was arriving. The sandbags 
were being removed from one side of the gate and when 
it swung open just enough to admit a car what was my 
amazement to see my friends come in! 

They had had an adventurous trip up from Tientsin. 
The human heads hanging from posts along the road and 
the evil-looking soldiery impressed them with the fact 
that their own lives were by no means safe. Theirs was 
the first car to come over the road and Peking was keen 
to learn what was happening outside the city. 

After a few days we discovered that Feng Yu-hsiang's 
army had retired up the railroad and entrenched them- 
selves at Nankou, the pass through the Great Wall on 
the way to Kalgan. For many hundreds of years this pass 
acted as a strategic point protecting Peking from inva- 
sions of the Mongols and Tartars from the north. Now 
it acted in the opposite way by preventing the Fengtien 
army from following Feng's so-called "Christian soldiers" 
to their headquarters at Kalgan. 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



I had had no news from Young since he reached Kal- 
gan on the last train that ran from Peking. Telegrams 
could not be sent and although wireless messages were 
accepted by the Chinese station in the Temple of Heaven 
they never were delivered. I tried every possible means of 
communication without success. Finally the American 
Consul in Kalgan got a radio through to the Consul 
General in Tientsin, who forwarded it to the Legation. 

It said that our caravan had finally started on April 
a6th, after having been commandeered three times by the 
soldiers in defiance of the permit given by the General in 
command at Kalgan. He had lost so much "face" over the 
matter that he furnished a military guard to see them 
beyond the limit of soldier activities. Young stated that 
he had tried to get down to Peking but had been turned 
back by the troops. 

The days dragged on interminably for all of us. All 
the staff were assembled with the exception of Young, 
who was in Kalgan. The cars were loaded in the court- 
yard of the headquarters, and the Expedition ready to 
leave at an hour's notice, but we were effectually blocked. 
Although the Fengtien troops were not pushing their 
advance against Nankou, heavy artillery fire could be 
heard every night in Peking. 

I tried to obtain permission to go by way of Shansi 
and reach the Mongolian plateau west of Kalgan. Just 
when it seemed that it might be arranged, Feng's army 
advanced along the proposed route. Therefore our plans 
came to an abrupt halt. There was a lull in the fighting 
at the Nankou pass, and I entered into negotiations for 
our passage through the lines. But the Generals said that 
136 



ATTEMPTS TO REACH MONGOLIA 

as there was a good deal of guerilla warfare going on we 
would certainly be killed if an attempt were made. 

About two weeks later I was amazed to have a tele- 
phone message from Young. He had j ust arrived in Peking 
from Kalgan after a strenuous and adventurous trip. At 
the hotel I found him unshaven, gaunt and hollow-eyed. 
He had come by way of Shansi and had traveled about 
six hundred miles in order to get to Peking. By the direct 
Nankou route Peking is only one hundred and twenty- 
four miles from Kalgan. 

Young had walked a good part of the way and the 
only food he could obtain along the road was a few boiled 
and salted eggs. We got him into bed and after a good 
many hours of sleep and some decent food he was fit and 
ready to do it over again if necessary. He reported that 
food in Kalgan was very low. For weeks the foreign resi- 
dents had had no coffee, tea, sugar, milk or butter, and 
but very little flour. Occasionally they could get fresh 
mutton. Cigarettes were entirely gone. Fortunately the 
British American Tobacco Company had a large garden 
in their compound and by forcing the vegetables under 
glass the foreigners would be able to carry on for some 
time longer. Nevertheless the situation was serious, for 
typhus had broken out and the only doctor in town had 
died of the disease. 

Although Young had been able to get through both 
lines in Shansi it was his opinion that it would be suicide 
to attempt it with six motors and a large party. We were 
certain, he said, to be annihilated by snipers even if we 
had permits and carried American flags. It wasn't good 
enough. 

137 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Only one other possible route to the plateau remained: 
that was by way of Jehol, the old summer residence of the 
Manchu emperors, then over to Dolon Nor in Inner 
Mongolia, and down to Kalgan. Jehol is one hundred and 
forty miles from Peking but the road is unspeakably bad. 
Lovell and I went in one of the Expedition cars and I 
enjoyed the trip for it took us through some of the most 
beautiful scenery in North China. A few miles beyond 
the An-Tung Men, the north gate of Peking, we saw sev- 
eral thousand Fengtien cavalry coming across country at 
a sharp trot. They gave the appearance of retreating sol- 
diers, but we were not molested by them. 

Jehol itself is a beautiful spot and I was looking for- 
ward to enjoying the old palace and the tombs. But we 
found that the place was literally swarming with soldiers 
who were so obnoxious that we remained there only a 
few hours. I had a letter of introduction from the Ameri- 
can Minister to the Military Governor and, after a con- 
siderable wait, was given an interview. He was a former 
bandit but received rne courteously in a small room at the 
extreme right of the old palace. The walls above the 
kang, or bed platform, on which he sat, were hung about 
with automatic pistols. There were ten of them and one 
was always within his reach. 

He would not even consider the suggestion of letting 
us through to Dolon Nor. He said that, were he to do so, 
he would be signing our death warrant, for the region 
was so infested with brigands and deserting soldiers that 
it would require a very strong armed guard even to take 
us through his own lines. Doubtless he was right, for in 
his outer office I had talked with two of his tax collectors 

138 



ATTEMPTS TO REACH MONGOLIA 

who had been fired on by brigands while on their way 
to a station a few miles from Jehol. In the city we visited 
a British missionary and his wife, the only foreign resi- 
dents. They said that for months they had been in a state 
of continual unrest due to the soldiers who swarmed 
through the place. Both of them seemed to be pretty well 
shaken nervously, and I can well imagine what they had 
been through. 

When Lovell and I returned to Peking we had an 
unpleasant experience just outside the north gate. Al- 
though but few soldiers had been there when we went 
out two days earlier, the right wing of the Fengtian troops 
had retreated from the Nankou pass and were entrench- 
ing themselves across the road. 

In spite of our American flag we were stopped by sol- 
diers who treated us as though we were bandits. Our 
passports were quite in order but unfortunately for us 
the sergeant in charge could not read Chinese. For an 
hour this wretched guard kept us covered with loaded 
and cocked rifles while they searched the car and our- 
selves. In spite of my protests, the soldiers would neither 
take us to an officer who was able to read his own lan- 
guage, nor allow us to go. At the slightest motion on our 
part the boy soldiers (they were about sixteen years old) 
would throw their rifles to their shoulders. I indicated to 
our captor that the rifles might easily go off accidentally 
in which case we would be killed- His only reply was 
"Mayo fadzu" (It can't be helped). 

At last an officer who had enough education to read 
Chinese appeared. As soon as he had examined our pass- 
ports we were allowed to proceed. Had we been killed 

139 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



even accidentally, they would have reported that we had 
attacked them and they had been forced to shoot in self- 
defense. The soldiers showed quite plainly that they had 
spent a most pleasant hour in annoying two foreigners 
who, in front of cocked rifles, were helpless. 

Two other attempts to reach the plateau failed. There 
was always the hope that one of those sudden changes so 
frequent in Chinese politics would open the way for us, 
and it was not until June that I had to finally admit that 
the 1926 Expedition must be abandoned. 

Our caravan had gone as far as Shara Murun, two 
hundred fifty miles out on the plateau, and there had 
awaited word from us. Hearing nothing they returned to 
Hallong Oso, one hundred miles north of Kalgan. One 
of the Mongols, Tserin, came in to learn what had be- 
come of us. He arrived just at the time when food in 
Kalgan was almost exhausted and the eighteen foreigners 
were facing real hardship. The American Consul man- 
aged to get a radio message to the Legation asking if they 
might take over our food. I immediately agreed and the 
supplies were brought to the city. The besieged foreign- 
ers sent us an enthusiastic note of thanks. 

It was not until mid-August that Feng Yu-hsiang's 
troops abandoned the defense of Nankoti and retreated 
into Shansi. The "Christian General" fled to Russia via 
Urga where he at once renounced all his Christian doc- 
trines. Chang Tso-lin set himself up in Peking as Dictator 
of North China. 

I had long wished to make a reconnaissance of Yunnan 
Province from the standpoint of archaeology and palae- 
ontology. As conditions appeared to be normally quiet 
140 



ATTEMPTS TO REACH MONGOLIA 

there, Nelson and Granger prepared to spend the winter 
in that beautiful province. From the experience I had 
gained on my 1916-17 Expedition, I was able to map out 
for them a tentative program and they left in August for 
Yunnanfu. 

Their winter in Szechuan had been interesting and 
valuable. Granger obtained a splendid collection of Plio- 
cene mammals from the fossil pits at Wanhsien, which 
supplemented his former work. Nelson was disappointed 
in finding no traces of Palaeolithic man in the caves along 
the river. Most of them had rock bottoms. He came to the 
conclusion that the river had not been used as a highway 
of travel until man had advanced far enough to learn the 
use of boats. He did, however, obtain a considerable col- 
lection of Neolithic implements and of those representing 
the interesting pre-Ghinese culture first discovered by 
Dr. J. G. Andersson. 

As there was little that I could do in Peking during 
the winter, I sailed from Shanghai on September first for 
America. Our fruitless summer had cost considerably 
more than would have been expended during a season's 
field work, and more money was urgently needed. I had 
also accepted an invitation to present the results of our 
explorations before the Royal Geographic Society in Lon- 
don at the Asia Lecture on November loth. My winter 
was a busy one and added some fifty thousand dollars to 
the treasury of the Expedition. 



CHAPTER X 



Politics and People 

DURING the winter of 1926-27 important political 
events took place in China. The British Concession in 
Hankow was forcibly taken by Chinese soldiers. To the 
stupefaction of all foreigners in China, the British Gov- 
ernment not only made no attempt to reclaim it, but 
eventually officially returned it to China. 

Chiang Kai-shih, in command of the southern army, 
was energetically making plans to attack the north with 
the object of bringing the entire country under the con- 
trol of his party. He was ably assisted by the Russian, 
Borodin, and his army was directed by Russian generals. 
It had remarkable success and eventually moved on 
Shanghai with the openly avowed intention of taking that 
city, ousting the foreigners and claiming the port for the 
Chinese. Flushed by their entirely unexpected success in 
the Hankow affair, the Chinese had decided that the 
Foreign Powers would not protect their interests and that 
if they used force they could drive all foreigners out of 
the country. They demanded the return of the Tientsin 
concessions and of the Legation Quarter in Peking. 
Propagandists, directed by Borodin and his Bolshevik 
organization, were active in all parts of China and par- 
ticularly in the northern armies. The "battles" which 
Chiang Kai-shih was heralded all over the world to have 




2 

\ 

u 

G 



C/3 

Q 



o 
u 



I 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



won against the northerners were farcical. Propaganda 
had so thoroughly done its work that usually the enemy 
retreated upon the appearance of the southerners, or else 
deserted to their side. 

But the Foreign Powers had been driven too far by 
the advance upon Shanghai, and war vessels and troops 
began to arrive from all quarters of the globe. The Brit- 
ish sent battleships and a large force which were first 
upon the scene. It is generally admitted that their prompt 
action saved a most horrible wholesale massacre of for- 
eigners. 

An indication of what would have happened all over 
China was given at Nanking. A southern army marched 
into the city, killed several foreigners, attacked the Con- 
sulates of two or three foreign powers, and began a sys- 
tematic looting of every foreign house. Eventually the 
foreigners realized that they would be murdered to the 
last child and gathered on a hill belonging to the Stand- 
ard Oil Company, where they were besieged by the mur- 
derous soldiers. A gallant American marine ascended to 
the roof of the building and while bullets were spattering 
all about him signaled to the warships in the river. The 
officer in command of the American destroyer said, "I'll 
either get a medal or a court-martial for this, but here 
she goes." His ship laid down a box barrage about the 
hill. As the first high explosive shell dropped near the 
house the Chinese soldiers ran pell-mell in every direc- 
tion. The foreigners were rescued by a landing party 
when the place had been cleared of the Chinese mur- 
derers. 

Meanwhile thousands of foreign troops had gathered 

1.43 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



in Shanghai. Barbed wire entanglements were erected 
about the foreign concessions and the city put under mar- 
tial law. A curfew kept all residents indoors after ten 
o'clock in the evening. One or two clashes took place with 
considerable loss to the Chinese, but no determined at- 
tack was launched against the concessions. The northern 
forces, completely disrupted by Bolshevik propaganda 
as they were, retreated, and the southerners occupied the 
native city of Shanghai. 

All foreign legations had ordered their nationals from 
the interior of China for it was quite evident that the 
Chinese intended to repeat the Boxer attempt of 1900 
and kill or drive out every foreigner. Reports were con- 
tinually arriving of murders and outrages committed 
upon foreigners in various parts of the country. 

Such in brief was the situation when I reached Peking 
in early April, 1927. I came via Korea by train. Every 
ship out of China and every train was packed with depart- 
ing residents, but coming to Peking I was the only for- 
eigner on the entire train. 

At Tangku, not far from Tientsin, what was my sur- 
prise to see Granger and Nelson on the platform. They 
were just returning from Yunnan and we all came on to 
Peking together. Granger reported that their trip had 
been somewhat disappointing. They had at first gone 
south and then east of Yunnanfu because the western 
part of the province was so infested by brigands that the 
authorities would not allow them to enter it. They had 
discovered only one important fossil deposit; that was of 
Pleistocene age, but bandits drove them out after they 
had spent only three days there. Granger believed it to 
144 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



have most important possibilities and hoped to return for 
a further exploration. Nelson had fared little better. He 
had discovered no traces of Palaeolithic man but did find 
further evidences of the Yangtze River Neolithic and pre- 
Chinese culture. I was sorry that they had not been able 
to explore the country to the west, for I believe that it 
will prove to be well worth investigating. 

Upon reaching Peking we found that the foreign resi- 
dents were thoroughly frightened. It was the first time 
that I had seen anything like a panic. Even the year be- 
fore when the gates of Peking were closed and sand- 
bagged, and Chang Tso-lin's wild Manchu hordes were 
looting and burning the countryside, few foreigners in 
the capital were even nervous. But the Hankow and Nan- 
king outrages had inflamed the anti-foreign feeling which 
exists in the hearts of most Chinese. The poorly veiled 
hostility to foreigners by all classes made us realize that 
wholesale slaughter had only been averted by the arrival 
of foreign troops in China. The southerners were push- 
ing slowly northward and the Legations were already 
advising their nationals to leave Peking. Efforts were 
made to get as many of the women and children as pos- 
sible to go to Dairen, Japan, or Manila. 

Suddenly the situation was completely changed by a 
dramatic raid by Chang Tso-lin's soldiers on the premises 
of the Russian Dal Bank next to the Soviet Embassy. As 
Chinese soldiers are not allowed to enter the Legation 
Quarter, the raid was made with the permission of the 
Diplomatic Body. Although they had agreed only to al- 
low the soldiers to search the Dal Bank, they went much 
further and ransacked the office of the Military Attach6. 

145 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



The diplomats protested, of course, but only formally. 
The raid took place at eleven o'clock in the morning. I 
happened to be at the National City Bank on the oppo- 
site side of the street and witnessed the entire proceeding. 
It was most dramatic and totallv unexpected by the Rus- 
sians. 

Until six o'clock that evening the searching proceeded. 
Many Chinese and Russian propagandists were uncere- 
moniously hauled out from their hiding places and hur- 
ried off to jail. One Bolshevik attempted to burn various 
important documents, but the fire was extinguished be- 
fore many had been consumed. 

Even in his wildest dreams Chang Tso-lin could 
hardly have believed that his raid would produce such 
important results. Evidently the Bolsheviks had com- 
pletely depended upon the diplomatic immunity of the 
Embassy and had used it as a central clearing-house from 
which operations were conducted in various parts of the 
world. Most incriminating documents were found. Few 
people realize that raids which subsequently took place in 
London, Paris and the Argentine were made upon infor- 
mation obtained at the Soviet Embassy in Peking! 

Chang Tso-lin then set to work systematically to rid 
North China of the propagandists. Those Chinese who 
were caught in the Embassy raid were slowly strangled. 
Search parties were busy day and night rounding up the 
others whose identity had been disclosed by the captured 
papers. Hardly a day passed that one or more persons 
were not executed at the public ground opposite the 
Temple of Heaven. The place has the appropriate name 
of "The Heaven's Bridge." The propagandists fled from 
146 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



North China like rats deserting a sinking ship. In a very 
few days Peking and its environs had lost its apprehension 
and settled down into quite a normal existence. 

Heavy fighting was going on but it was still some dis- 
tance from Peking and the raid had so disrupted the 
propaganda system of the southerners that Chang Tso-lin 
made some progress in driving them back. Finally, how- 
ever, they recovered from the blow to their plans and 
again began to advance slowly northward. 

The prospect for continuing our exploration in Mon- 
golia could not have been blacker. Even had I been able 
to get the Expedition away from Peking, the American 
Minister would have prohibited us from leaving. Hardly 
a single foreigner was left anywhere away from the sea- 
ports of China. Still, it was most disheartening to face 
another season of inactivity. Granger, Olsen and Nelson 
sailed for America. Only McKenzie Young remained 
with me at the headquarters. We proceeded to liquidate 
certain effects of the Expedition, put others in a place 
of comparative safety, and reduce current expenses to the 
minimum. I decided to stay in Peking during the winter, 
hoping that one of those sudden changes that so fre- 
quently occur in Chinese politics would give some en- 
couragement for an expedition in 1928. 

Spending a winter in Peking can hardly be called one 
of the hardships of an explorer's life. It is the most inter- 
esting and the most delightful city in the world and I say 
that advisedly. I lived in a beautiful old Manchu palace; 
had a staff of eighteen efficient servants; a stable of polo 
ponies and hunters; and a host of friends. Peking is the 
one place left in the world where one can live an Arabian 

147 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Nights' existence. One rubs the lamp and things hap- 
pen. Don't inquire how they happen; just rub the lamp! 

Peking with its history, its temples and palaces, is 
fascinating as a city; the Chinese themselves are interest- 
ing and the foreign community is always amusing. It is a 
cosmopolitan group of the most varied sort. It would re- 
quire a real effort to give a dinner of only one nationality. 
Usually as I looked over my own table I would see five or 
six, and once out of fourteen people there were nine 
nationalities. It just happened that way. They were the 
people I liked the outdoor set those that rode, raced, 
hunted, played polo, and danced. The bridge and mah- 
jongg crowd I saw less often for our interests were not 
the same. 

Almost anything can happen in Peking. People do 
the most extraordinary things things they never would 
do any other place on earth or even want to do. I suppose 
part of it is due to the dry exhilarating air which acts like 
a perpetual cocktail; part to the close association of races 
with radically different social and moral standards; and 
part to the subtle influence of the East. Kipling expressed 
it when he wrote: 

Ship me somewhere east of Suez, 
Where the best is like the worst; 
Where there ain't no ten commandments, 
And a man can raise a thirst. 

The foreign social life centers about the legation, of 
course, and it is always interesting. The Diplomatic Body 
are the only ones who really take themselves seriously 
148 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



the rest of Peking laughs at everybody and everything. 
Next to the "D. B." our most fruitful source of amuse- 
ment was likely to be our Congressional junketers, many 
o whom came to the East only for the ride. They were a 
joke to us who were not officials, but to the Legation staff 
it was tragic. 

A certain United States Senator and his wife, who for 
obvious reasons shall be nameless and who with his wife 
was a laughingstock of his own colleagues, gave us the 
greatest kick of the year. Unfortunately for the poor 
Counselor of Legation, the Minister was absent and the 
former was Charge d'Affaires. The Counselor was the 
proud owner of a Lincoln motor car. In it he met Senator 
and Mrs. Senator. On the way to the Legation the Senator 
remarked, 

"I think it is an unjustifiable extravagance for the 
Government to furnish Lincoln cars for its representa- 
tives. A Ford is good enough for me. I'm going to do 
something about it." 

"But this happens to be my own personal car," said 
the Counselor. 

"Well, anyway it uses more gasoline than a Ford and 
I suppose the U. S. Government has to pay for that. 
Moreover, we are a democratic nation and cars like this 
create a bad impression/* 

So it went for three days just one damn thing after 
another. The Counselor was nearly mad but he stuck it 
out and on the last night of the Senator's stay gave a beau- 
tiful dinner for them in his own home. A visiting Am- 
bassador to Washington and the British Minister to China 
were among the guests. I happened to be there too. 

149 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



According to diplomatic precedent, the Ambassador 
was seated on the right of the hostess, then came a lady 
and next to her the Senator. On Mrs. Counselor's left 
was the British Minister; then Mrs. Senator and then I. 
The Senator refused to be seated because he was not 
placed at the hostess' right hand. There was an awkward 
pause while it was explained to him that an Ambassador 
and a Minister of Foreign powers outranked a Senator 
while dining in a United States Legation. 

With extremely bad grace he finally sat down. Before 
the fish was served, my turn came. Mrs. Senator exam- 
ined my place card. 

"Hum, Doctor Andrews. Oh, I'm so glad to be seated 
next to a doctor. Do you know, almost as soon as we 
reached Japan I got dysentery. I've had the most awful 
time. I've just" then followed such intimate details of 
her physical condition that I had to do something about 
it or have my dinner ruined. 

"But I'm not that kind of a doctor, Mrs. Senator. It 
really doesn't do any good to tell me about it. I'd advise 
you to consult a physician." 

"Not a doctor? Not a doctor?" said she indignantly. 
"Your card says 'Dr. Andrews/ What are you?" 
"I'm a Doctor of Science/' I replied meekly. 
"Doctor of Science! I never heard of it. It is perfectly 
ridiculous to call yourself a doctor if you are not a doc- 
tor/' 

Then, thank God, she turned her back to me and gave 
the British Minister her attention for the rest of the 
evening. 

After the women had gone into the drawing-room and 
150 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



coffee was being served, the Senator remarked to our host, 

"Pretty nice dinner. Good wine I suppose the United 
States Government is paying for this?" 

The Counselor had arrived at such a state that noth- 
ing mattered any more. 

"No," said he politely. "I pay for it. But if you'd like 
to know what it cost I'll find out." 

He called his Number One Boy. 

"How much this dinner cost, Li, each person?" 

"Each piecie, about two dollars, Master. This 'our 
number one dinner. Champagne cost eight dollars bottle. 
We drink four bottle. Fourteen people twenty-eight dol- 
lar. Wine, four bottle, thirty-two dollar. Altogether cost 
sixty dollar. Not too much." 

All this in front of the Senator. 

"The dinner, Senator, cost sixty dollars/' said our 
host. 

"Yes, but that is silver. Exchange about two for one. 
Thirty dollars. Not bad, not bad. Couldn't do it for that 
in Washington. But I'm glad the taxpayers don't foot the 
bill. Have to watch these things, you know." 

For the honor of the United States, however, I must 
admit that this was a particularly bad specimen to turn 
loose on an unsuspecting world. We had some others that 
same summer who were really good eggs. 

You just can't live happily in China unless you have 
a sense of humor. Otherwise you would be in a rage half 
the time. The Chinese don't think as we do in the first 
place. Their whole method of reasoning is so utterly dif- 
ferent from ours that you have to accept the fact and try 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



to adjust your mental perspective to theirs. After awhile 
you may achieve partial success but mostly you have to 
depend upon your sense of humor to pull you through 
without a nervous breakdown. Their logic is so different 
from ours. 

Far be it from me to say which kind is better, but cer- 
tainly theirs is more convenient. Witness an example at 
the former International Race Club in Peking. A mile 
race with only Chinese jockeys was the feature of the day. 
The judges were all Chinese. The favorite pony ridden 
by a popular jockey carried most of the money. But he 
was a nervous little beast and at the post broke away and 
ran the entire course. The starter held the field for he 
didn't dare let the others go without the favorite. Finally 
they all got off together with the favorite in the lead. But 
he couldn't quite stick the second mile and dropped back 
to finish a good second, only a length behind the leader. 
But did that bother the judges? Not at all! They declared 
the favorite the winner, much to the satisfaction of the 
crowd. 

They argued, "Already that pony has run two miles 
and the others only one. He finished second. It is quite 
obvious that he is the best pony and would have come in 
first if he hadn't bolted." 

Of course they might have been slightly influenced by 
the fact that one of the judges owned the favorite! 

Another example of Chinese reasoning: I was driving 
back from the Western Hills one afternoon when my car 
ran over a duck crossing the road in front of a farmhouse. 
I stopped. The peasant's wife was wailing over the corpse 
which was obviously far beyond repair. 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



"Lao yeh, Lao yeh" (Honorable Master), she moaned, 
"You have killed my duck, my beautiful duck, the finest 
one of all my ducks." 

"I'm sorry, but 111 pay, of course. Then you can buy 
another finer duck." 

We bargained, and it was eventually agreed that 
sixty-five cents was a fair and proper price for careless 
ducks which got squashed under motor cars. The woman 
started back into the house with her money. Suddenly 
she whirled about. 

"Oh, I have forgotten the egg. I must have ten cop- 
pers for the egg." 

"What egg?" said L 

"The egg that's in the duck. Look! You'll see there is 
one there. She was just going across the road to lay an 
egg when you killed her." 

I investigated and sure enough there was a broken 
egg in the corpus delicti. 

"Do you want me to pay for all the eggs your duck 
would have laid this summer?" I asked. 

"No, of course not. Those eggs don't exist. But this 
one does. There it is. You can see it. I could have sold it 
for ten coppers." 

The reasoning was indisputable. She got the money. 

I have discovered, too, that you can have a lot of fun 
at housekeeping in China if you don't let it get on your 
nerves. "Squeeze" drives foreigners mad at first until they 
come to realize that it is a custom of the country and that 
all you can do is to keep it within reasonable limits. 
Housekeeping becomes a game and you've got to play it 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



with a sense of humor, realizing before you start that you 
can't win. Your servants try all sorts of things and usually 
they get away with them. They think so much further 
than you do. They plan a stunt to make a little extra 
money out of the master, and since he is completely un- 
suspecting, the thing is done before he knows what is 
going on. 

My Number One Boy gave me a small bowl of gold- 
fish at Christmas. I was pleased because they were very 
nice goldfish with long flowing tails. The Boy called my 
attention to all their good points and I discovered that 
he knew a lot about goldfish. 

After a week the Boy suggested that he buy a larger 
bowl for me with some especially decorative goldfish it 
would cost about fifteen dollars. The bowl did look very 
nice. But one by one the fish died, as they have a habit of 
doing, and very unobtrusively were replaced with others. 
My monthly bills began to show a regular charge for 
goldfish. 

By that time, under the expert guidance of the Boy, 
I had become very much interested in goldfish. I began to 
talk about them at the Club and pose as rather an author- 
ity. It had come early spring when the Boy suggested that 
I go in for goldfish in a big way. An enormous earthen- 
ware bowl was to be purchased and stocked with the very 
finest goldfish to decorate the central court. It was done, 
the bill amounting to a hundred and fifty dollars. 

A few days later I noticed a new coolie about the 
house. I said to him, "What do you do here?" 

"I belong goldfish coolie/' he answered. 

His job, I discovered, was to clean the fish jar once a 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



week and to scatter the prepared food on the water. For 
these arduous labors I was paying him eight dollars a 
month (Mex.). 

My fish account now began to reach alarming propor- 
tions. In spite of the efforts of the goldfish coolie, no 
sooner did I get an especially beautiful specimen than it 
died. I suddenly lost interest in goldfish and told the Boy 
that I was through. He was to sell the fish and the jar and 
bring me the money. This was forthwith done and I was 
presented with twenty dollars as proceeds of the sale. My 
Boy explained that just then the goldfish market was very 
bad. 

Having rid myself of the fish I forgot about them. 
Nearly a month later I happened to go into the kitchen 
compound, and there under an apple tree was my jar 
filled with the most beautiful goldfish. I called the Boy. 

"What the devil is this?" said I. 

With a bland smile he answered, "I liked the goldfish 
so much that I bought them from Master." 

I smelled a mouse then and did a little investigating. 
My discovery was as follows: my Boy was a breeder of 
goldfishone of the best in the city. 'Way back at Christ- 
mas time he had conceived the idea of getting me inter- 
ested in goldfish. Having done this, all the fish which he 
acquired for me were purchased from himself at an exor- 
bitant price. The goldfish coolie was a man who owed 
him money. He gave him the job and took his salary of 
eight dollars a month as part liquidation of his debt. He 
had purchased back from me my jar and all the fish at 
about a seventh of what I had paid for them. Out of the 
deal he had made several hundred dollars. 

155 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



This was all a perfectly legitimate operation accord- 
ing to the Chinese code. I had had my fun out of the 
goldfish and just because I had been done in the eye as to 
price was my own fault. The Boy had not the slightest 
hesitation in admitting the whole plan. The only thing I 
could do was to laugh about it. 

Many people believe that foreigners who live in China 
eat only Chinese food. Nothing is further from the truth. 
I think Chinese are the best cooks in the world. Mine had 
worked for nineteen years in foreign legations before he 
came to me. He could cook any kind of food of any coun- 
try and prepare it most deliciously. Every morning he 
would present the day's menu written in perfect French. 
Some days I would have Russian food others Italian or 
perhaps Swedish. But always Chinese food at least once a 
week for I like it enormously. 

But not the so-called "delicacies/* I'm all against 
those. No chicken windpipes for me. Neither do I like 
fishes' stomachs nor ducks' feet. From camels' humps, 
ducks' tongues and bears' paws I remain aloof. Sea slugs 
are worst of all. I'm not just trying to be funny. These 
are really honest-to-goodness dishes which are likely to be 
presented to you at any Chinese banquet in Peking if the 
host is rich enough and is giving a really swagger dinner. 

The Chinese dearly love strange and unusual dishes. 
Not as food really, but as an excuse to demonstrate the 
ability of the cook in concocting a sauce which would 
make a piece of rubber boot delicious. A chicken's wind- 
pipe tastes just as you would expect a chicken's windpipe 
would taste like nothing at all. But, if you want to, you 
156 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



can suck on the windpipe to get the sauce. Shark's fin 
soup isn't bad in fact, I rather enjoy it. Likewise bird's 
nest soup. The latter isn't made of sticks and straw. It 
comes from the beak of a little swallow. Two glands on 
either side of the throat secrete a gelatinous substance 
like glue. When the bird is impelled to build a home, it 
sticks a bit of the glue to a rock, draws it out and fastens 
it a few inches away. Back and forth it strings the glue 
which hardens and forms a tiny half basket. 

The hundred-year-old eggs are seldom a hundred 
years old. The process of preparation is hastened by lay- 
ing down the eggs in lime and leaving them for a year or 
two. The yolk turns black, and the white, light yellow. 
Dipped in soya bean sauce the egg isn't bad. 

But what I've been telling you is only of the strange 
dishes with which a Chinese gentleman amuses his guests 
and "gives face" to his cook. The meat balls, pork and 
cabbage, eggs, chickens, ducks, fish and a hundred other 
dishes are so delicious that it makes me hungry even to 
write about them. In the north the Peking duck is impor- 
tant most of all. He really ought to be canonized. Great 
white fellows, with thick fat, and tender as a squab. They 
have restaurants in Peking where only ducks are served 
in a dozen different ways. 

An amazing thing about a Chinese cook is the way he 
can serve a delicious dinner with the most primitive cook- 
ing arrangements. Many foreigners rent temples near 
Peking as country places. Mine was called the "Temple of 
the High Spirited Insects." There were only a couple of 
tiny charcoal stoves in the kitchen which a foreign cook 
wouldn't consider as stoves at all. Yet my cook could pro- 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



duce an eight-course dinner which would make your 
mouth water, all prepared in the temple. 

It was at this same temple that I had a most uncom- 
fortable experience in a Chinese grave. My shoulder had 
been broken in a steeplechase and my whole right side 
was done up in a plaster cast. Lunching at the Temple 
of the High Spirited Insects on a cold January day, I 
walked by myself across the fields late in the afternoon. 
A tiny path led toward a village a quarter of a mile away. 
Near it was a newly dug grave, deep, but narrow. Idly 
looking in, my foot slipped and down I went into the pit. 
I landed on my back, fitting the grave as though it had 
been measured for me. 

I lay there looking up at the patch of sky already 
golden with sunset glow, laughing at myself. Then I tried 
to get out. Not a chance. I was wedged in as tightly as a 
sardine. My whole right side was powerless because of 
the plaster cast and I couldn't move an inch. The tem- 
perature was ten below zero. Already I was numb from 
cold and began to realize that it was far from being 
funny. If some one didn't get me out I'd freeze to death 
long before morning. It was already dusk and the Chinese 
don't move about much in the winter after dark. I did 
get a little amusement, however, out of thinking what a 
sensation I'd cause when the coolies came to finish the 
grave and found me in it. An hour gone and I had just 
reached the drowsy stage which precedes death by freez- 
ing. Then I heard voices somebody walking along the 
path. I shouted, but it was a pretty feeble shout. The 
Chinese apparently didn't hear it, for they went right on 
158 



POLITICS AND PEOPLE 



chattering. Terrified that they would pass by, I let out a 
yell that stopped them in their tracks. 

"I'm a foreigner; I've fallen in the grave; 111 give you 
money to get me out," I bawled in Chinese. "Money to 
get me out. I'm a foreigner." 

Then startled grunts and a pattering of feet as they 
ran away. But I knew that they would return. Curiosity 
would bring them back or, if they were too frightened, 
they would go to the village and tell the story. Pretty soon 
voices sounded and I saw two faces peering down at me 
over the edge of the grave. 

"I'm a foreigner; I've fallen in; I'll give you money 
to get me out," I called. 

They were two old men, hanging on to each other, 
absolutely terrified. But the words "foreigner" and 
"money" had penetrated their fright as I hoped they 
would. 

As soon as they discovered that I wasn't a devil or a 
spirit, they were all friendliness. I told them to get ropes 
and to hurry. Back to the village they trotted. In fifteen 
minutes a dozen men, women and children were at the 
grave-side with rope, lanterns and a rickshaw. 

I was hoisted out eventually, but too cold to walk. 
The rickshaw carried me to the nearest house. A hot 
kang, tea and blankets, albeit they were covered with 
fleas, warmed me up. For an hour I told the story to half 
the village and jolly glad I was that I could tell it. An- 
other hour in that, infernal grave and I would have been 
frozen as hard as a cold storage pheasant. 



159 



CHAPTER XI 



In the Desert at Last 

AT the end of January, 1928, I cabled the American 
Museum to send out the Expedition's scientific staff. 
There were still certain difficulties about getting into 
Mongolia for bandits literally swarmed on the plateau. 
Most of them were concentrated in the area of Chinese 
cultivation from thirty to one hundred miles north of 
Kalgan. There the great caravan trails from Central Asia 
converge. Moreover, the bandits can find food and shelter 
from the villagers. No trade had been carried on with 
Mongolia for months. Not a caravan or motor car could 
move out of Kalgan without being robbed. Conditions 
became so bad that the merchants were being ruined and 
the brigands found that they had killed their source of 
revenue. As usual in China the matter was settled by the 
Chamber of Commerce. The local government officials 
agreed that certain 'liaison bandits" would be allowed to 
enter Kalgan and make their own private arrangements 
with the caravan owners. Those who paid five dollars a 
camel could pass the brigand area unmolested. This form 
of protection is a common practice in China and works 
smoothly enough as a rule. Early in February thirteen 

, thousand camels left Kalgan at one time, bound for Urga, 
Uliassutai, Kobdo and Hami in Chinese Turkestan. The 

motor cars which went to Urga paid the bandits one hun- 
160 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



dred dollars each for the hundred-mile passage through 
the danger zone exactly a dollar a mile. 

I started buying camels through my Mongols soon 
after Christmas, and by mid-February the one hundred 
and twenty-five for the Expedition's caravan had been 
assembled just beyond the brigand area. Meanwhile 
McKenzie Young and I had collected the supplies and 
equipment at Kalgan. Four thousand gallons of gasoline, 
one hundred gallons of oil, two tons of flour, a ton of 
sugar, thousands of pounds of rice and other food were 
packed and ready for the camels. There would be thirty- 
seven men, native and foreign, in the personnel. Thirty- 
seven men eat a great deal in six months and we could 
obtain nothing in Mongolia except game and an occa- 
sional sheep. Whatever we would use in the multiple 
activities of the Expedition must be provided in advance. 
There are no oases in the Gobi producing milk and 
honey, automobile parts or palaeontological tools. 

The boxes which carry our food and gasoline into the 
desert bring specimens out. Everything must do double 
duty. This rule extends even to the camels. Packing 
material for the delicate fossils would be unobtainable 
except for our caravan. A camel is an impossible sort of 
creature in every way. Nothing about him is like an 
ordinary respectable animal. Thus, when he sheds his 
winter's wool, it comes off in great strips and patches, 
making him look like an animated moth-eaten carpet. 

We found that our camels shed at just about the 
normal rate at which we collected fossils, so when we 
needed packing material we simply pulled a yard or two 
off some camel whose wool was ready for plucking. But 

161 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



one must not be too careless about removing his overcoat, 
otherwise he will catch cold and die. In spite of his size 
he is a very delicate animal or thinks he is. If he has a 
tiny cut in one of his great flat foot pads he will cry and 
moan like a baby. The Mongol's remedy for such an 
emergency is simple. The camel is thrown, his legs crossed 
and he is tied so tightly that he cannot move. Then a 
piece of leather is sewn over the cut, as one would patch 
a garment. It looks like a barbarous operation, but it is 
no more painful than shoeing is to a horse. 

The camel's only food is the sagebrush and thorny 
Gobi vegetation. He wouldn't eat green grass if he had 
it. It would make him ill. The drier, the thornier and 
stiffer a plant is the better it agrees with him. The 
peculiarities of camels would fill a book. 

Our caravan reached Kalgan early in March with five 
thousand other camels just down from Urga. Accompany- 
ing them was a bandit liaison officer. A few years before, 
he had been a respectable landlord of one of the motor 
inns on the Urga trail. I knew him well and knew that 
now he was a head brigand. What is more, he knew that 
I knew it. But it would have made him "lose face" to 
admit the fact. Therefore, we were introduced as though 
we had never seen each other. While he remained in 
Kalgan he posed as a general who could arrange protec- 
tion for our caravan through his soldiers. Half an hour 
of tea drinking and extraneous conversation ensued be- 
fore we got around to business. He suggested the cus- 
tomary fee of five dollars a camel. I offered one dollar. 
He knew that our boxes contained nothing that his 
162 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



brigands could use or dispose o and eventually we settled 
on one-half the usual rate. 

Just before he left he brought up the matter of the 
one-hundred-dollar fee for each of our motor cars which 
would go out some weeks after the camels had left. I 
stalled on that. We were uncertain when we would leave 
how many cars there would be I would get in touch 
with him later! But I did mention that after all we hardly 
needed protection, for we would have thirty men on the 
cars, all would have rifles and, moreover, there would 
be a machine gun which could shoot two hundred bullets 
a minute. I did not make a definite statement. It would 
have sounded too much like a threat and wouldn't have 
been polite, knowing what he knew I knew. So I just sort 
of murmured it as though I were considering the matter 
aloud. But he got it. We parted with expressions of 
mutual esteem, and I dismissed the matter from my mind. 

It was essential that the camels leave five or six weeks 
prior to the scientific party, for they acted as a supply 
base for our fleet of motor cars. Camels, when carrying 
the usual load of four hundred pounds each, can seldom 
average better than ten or fifteen miles a day, for they 
must stop frequently to feed. Our motors could do 
one hundred miles a day, so that we could move just ten 
times as fast as the caravan. When the camels left, I in- 
structed Tserin, the Mongol leader, one of my most 
trusted men, to leave gasoline at a well near the trail 
and await us at a lamasery several hundred miles out in 
the desert. 

On April i2th the staff with the exception of Captain 
Hill and myself left for Kalgan. Two days later, the 

163 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



American Minister, Mr. J. V. A. MacMurray, his wife 
and sister, and Mr. Lewis Clark of the American Lega- 
tion went up with Captain Hill and myself. The Minister 
and his party wished to see the Expedition start and to 
accompany us for a short distance beyond Kalgan. The 
Minister's presence was of much help to us in Kalgan. 
Not only did the officials hurry through the final pass- 
ports, but we were relieved from paying the road tax 
which for our eight cars would have been a considerable 
amount. 

When we left on the morning of April i6th the 
Kalgan authorities provided an escort of fifty cavalry to 
accompany us to the top of the pass. There was little 
danger for that distance, but they were taking no chances 
where an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary was concerned. After a few miles of driving sedately 
in the dust cloud behind the cavalry we assumed that the 
amenities had been observed. The horsemen were left to 
await the Minister's return, but at every corner of the 
road groups of soldiers popped out unexpectedly to 
present arms. This went on all the way to the village of 
Chang-peh-hsien, where the Minister's party left us. They 
got back to the foot of the pass earlier than the cavalry 
escort expected them and discovered the gallant soldiers 
in the act of robbing a caravan. The Minister started to 
take photos of the operations but the soldiers became very 
ugly and he had to stop. It was an excellent example of 
what happens all over China, for most Chinese soldiers 
are potential brigands. It is only a matter of opportunity. 
We spent the night at Chang-peh in a Chinese inn. 
Trouble might be expected on our next day's run through 
164 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



the bandit country and we wanted daylight for all of it. 

A hard rain began early the next morning and con- 
tinued all day, so that we could not start. I served out 
the rifles and ammunition for all of the men, and we 
planned exactly what to do in case of attack. The com- 
mander of the troops at Chang-peh told us that there 
were three hundred brigands in the region of Chep-sur, 
about sixty miles from Chang-peh, and that probably 
they would give us trouble. He also remarked that his 
furthest outposts were twenty miles from the village 
and that any armed man beyond that point was a bandit. 
Nevertheless, we did not worry at this rather grim in- 
formation, because under ordinary circumstances twenty 
Chinese brigands to one foreigner is about the correct 
odds. The commander told us that a week before our 
arrival his troops had had a battle with about one thou- 
sand brigands. Since many of his soldiers did not return 
he surmised that they themselves had become robbers. 

The next morning was bright, with a strong, cold 
wind. We left the inn at half past six and our cars made 
a most imposing spectacle. American flags and that of 
the New York Explorer's Club flew from every car and 
each man held a rifle in his hand. I felt certain that even 
three hundred bandits would hesitate before attacking us 
in the open. 

For the first fifty miles we saw no armed men. The 
villages were almost deserted, the fields untilled, and few 
farmers appeared upon the road. Impressive indications 
of how the bandits had devastated the countryside! Not 
far from a small river called the "Black Water" we ap- 
proached eight well-dressed and heavily-armed mounted 

165 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



soldiers. As they were much beyond the twenty-mile limit 
set by the Chang-peh commander, they must certainly be 
bandits and I told our men to keep them covered. They 
made no move to touch their weapons, but signaled that 
they wished us to stop. Keeping my revolver in hand I 
let them draw up alongside the car. 

The spokesman said that they were part of a guard 
detailed by the Chang-peh commander to escort us 
through the brigand area. Of course, I knew that was a 
lie. Would we kindly stop in the next village to have tea 
and discuss the matter of our further protection? It so 
happened that the place where he had so cordially invited 
us to have tea was a fortified village where most of the 
robberies had taken place and about which we had been 
particularly warned. At my request for his credentials 
the "soldier" produced a letter written in Chinese pur- 
porting to be from the Chang-peh commander, saying 
that eight cars were to arrive with a party of Americans 
and to give them protection. But the letter had no "chop" 
or seal without which no communications are official in 
China. It would be like a letter of authority without a 
signature. The ruse was obvious. The bandits, being 
afraid to attack us in the open, hoped to entice us to stop 
in the village. While we were having tea we would have 
found ourselves covered by rifles and would have been 
either killed at once or held for ransom, 

I told the brigands to leave at the double quick or 
we would shoot them where they stood. They wheeled 
their ponies and fled. 

When we reached the village we found that it had 
been converted into a real fortress. Deep ditches on either 
166 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



side of the road prevented a car from turning off, and 
two diagonal, loopholed walls covered all approaches, 
Many men were ostentatiously lolling about the entrance 
as our motors roared through. They seemed considerably 
surprised when we did not stop. 

Sometime later we learned the sequel to the story. A 
wounded bandit came to Hatt-in-sumu for treatment. He 
told Mr. Eriksson that the brigands were very angry be- 
cause we had escaped their trap and were preparing a 
hot reception for us upon our return. 

At our village Bato and the various families welcomed 
us with joy. Shackelford had brought many illustrated 
papers showing photos of these same people, taken the 
previous year. The women particularly were thrilled and 
handled the papers as though they were made of gold 
leaf. By the time we reached Hatt-in-sumu a violent gale 
was blowing and we welcomed the shelter of our tents. 

In 1926 the mission station was moved from Hallong 
Oso, where it had been for some fifteen years. When it 
was established Chinese cultivation had not reached their 
region and the missionaries had Mongols living all about 
them. But as years went by the Chinese farmers pushed 
their fields farther and farther into the grasslands, 
driving the Mongols before them to new pasturage. Since 
their work was essentially among the Mongols, the mis- 
sionaries had themselves to move in order to maintain 
contact with their people, 

Mr. Eriksson had purchased an abandoned temple as 
the site of their new home. They lived in the temple until 
a new mud house had been erected. Now, there are seven 
buildings, including a dispensary and operation room, for 

167 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Mr. Eriksson's work is largely along medical lines. His 
medical training is sufficient to qualify him to handle 
ordinary diseases and accidents, and he has done an 
enormous amount of good among the Mongols. 

The mission station nestles close to the base of low 
granite hills commanding a view of the rolling grasslands 
for many miles to the east. It is a charming spot and I 
cannot wonder that the Erikssons love it. Mr. Eriksson is 
an exceptional man. Alert and keen, able to turn his hand 
to almost any kind of work, he tells me that he is perfectly 
happy and hopes to live the remainder of his life and die 
in Mongolia. When he passes the Mongols will have lost 
a true friend. They appreciate little enough what he does 
for them. Eriksson is always ready to drive long distances 
in his little motor car to attend the poorest herder or one 
of the reigning princes. He even keeps on excellent terms 
with the lama doctors from neighboring temples and 
treats with sympathetic understanding the superstitions 
of his patients. The religious side of his work is difficult. 
After fifteen years the mission numbers only about forty 
converts, but the good he has done is measured in in- 
finitely greater terms. There are two or three other mis- 
sion stations, all Swedish, in the region. 

Mr. Eriksson tells me that the most prevalent illnesses 
in the Mongols of his region are venereal diseases. He 
says that about ninety per cent of all men and women 
who have come under his observation have, or have had, 
syphilis or gonorrhea. This is due, of course, to the 
promiscuous habits of both sexes. Often, however, he 
finds healthy children from parents one or both of whom 
are afflicted with syphilis. 
168 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



The lama doctors use a root called "tu-fil," which h 
thinks is a species of sarsaparilla, in treating syphili 
They give the patient very little to eat; no meat o an 
sort, and only a little soup. He is not allowed to leav 
the tent for several weeks. The Mongol name for syphili 
is "the new time disease/' but none venture to say hoi 
old it is or from whence it came. Doubtless syphilis i 
often contracted from pipes, but the lamas are by far th 
most potent agents in its widespread distribution. 

Mr. Eriksson says that, after venereal disease, scabie 
is certainly the most common complaint. Because of thei 
lack of cleanliness, almost every son of skin disease tha 
"flesh is heir to" appears at some time. Muscular rheu 
matism is almost universal due to exposure, cold yurts 
et cetera. Eye troubles are very prevalent, such as -con 
junctivitis, cornea sores and ulcers. These are engendered 
by standstorms out-of-doors and constant smoke within 
the yurt. 

Tuberculosis is decidedly uncommon. It is doubtless 
prevented by continual sunlight and the open-air life. 
Indigestion is a common complaint, and bronchitis in 
winter is almost universal. 

Smallpox is prevented to a considerable extent by 
vaccination which is given to every child from four to ten 
years old by the lama doctors. They use the Turkish 
method. Crusts from a newly recovered patient are 
gathered and ground up with seed pearls and other sub- 
stances which are supposed to weaken the germs. This 
powder is blown into the mucous membrane of the nose 
of the child. The patient is thus given a regular case of 
smallpox which may be light or severe. Often the children 

169 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



die. There are certain lama doctors who seem to have 
very few deaths to their discredit and naturally these are 
most popular. After vaccination the child is confined in 
the y urt and the parents try to prevent it from pulling off 
the crusts. Frequently an entire village will be vaccinated 
at one time. 

Typhoid fever is often seen, but is not really pre- 
valent, and typhus seldom. The lamas recognize infec- 
tious diseases and try to keep such patients segregated. 
Scurvy appears only in the spring, but at that time it is 
very common, because the Mongols then have no fresh 
meat or milk. They are living on meat killed the previous 
autumn and kept frozen during the winter. From the end 
of November to the beginning of June the Mongols kill 
no stock because the animals are all thin. Scurvy begins 
to develop in early April, but few people die of the dis- 
ease. The natives are thoroughly familiar with its symp- 
toms and know that almost any green vegetation will 
arrest its progress. Since nettles appear earlier than any- 
thing else, they eat quantities of this plant. 

On Friday, April soth, we left the mission station at 
six o'clock in the morning of a beautiful day. The air 
was so exhilarating and the sun so bright that we sang 
like school boys as the miles of plain vanished under the 
car wheels. The uninitiated would believe that summer 
had come to stay. But it was only a fortnight of perfect 
weather as a prelude to the blasting sandstorms and bitter 
cold of the next five weeks. Already the scanty vegetation 
had begun to show a faint trace of yellow-green. Bustards 
strutted like turkey cocks on the long hill slopes; bands 
of gazelles raced to cross our bows. Why they do I cannot 
170 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



explain. It is not only gazelles; wild asses, camels, ponies 
sheep, cattle every kind of animal on the plains seem 
feel the same strange urge. They must pass in front 
the car. Once over, some of them go on about their busi 
ness; others cross and recross half a dozen times. 

One gazelle gave us an exhibition of really high-class 
running. He was on a hard smooth plain when we came 
abreast of him about three hundred yards off to the right 
He trotted parallel with us for a few moments and then 
broke into a run. For a furlong we held even at thirty- 
five miles an hour; then I stepped on the accelerator. 
He did likewise. Another push brought us up to forty 
miles an hour. He seemed rather surprised at that and 
slightly annoyed that anything should challenge him. 
After a quarter of a mile he evidently decided that the 
matter had passed a joke and he would end it right there. 
Then he really began to run. The flying legs were only 
a blur like the wings of an electric fan. His body seemed 
floating in space. I could not better forty-five miles an 
hour on that going and the gazelle drew in swiftly on a 
long slant, passing fifty yards ahead of us. Once across, he 
slowed down, gave a final leap as though he were on 
rubber tires, and stopped to gaze curiously at the car. 

He had run a fairly good race, for he started three 
hundred yards away and we were going at forty-five miles 
an hour on a straight line. He was certainly doing sixty 
miles an hour. Can you imagine an animal not equipped 
with wings and having no gas tank, reaching such a speed 
even for half a mile? Of course a gazelle cannot maintain 
that pace very long. It has been developed only for that 
initial dash which takes them away from wolves that lie 

171 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



in wait behind rocks or in ravines. How far they can run 
I do not know, but ten miles I am sure of. Shackelford 
and I raced one on a great plain. At first he drew away 
from us and we could just keep his bobbing white rump 
patch in sight. Gradually we overhauled him and chugged 
steadily along at forty miles an hour, with the gazelle 
about sixty yards in front. His tongue was out, but he 
did not slacken his speed. The race was never finished, 
for after ten miles we got a puncture, but he didn't. 

The trail was our former route of 1925 and as Major 
-Roberts had already mapped it there was no delay for the 
topographic work. The tiffin hour found us fifty miles 
from Hatt-in-sumu, in a most picturesque spot among 
some giant boulders, and at six-thirty in the afternoon 
when the white escarpment of Shara Murun had begun 
to show as a purple line backed by the dull gold of sunset, 
we saw the camels of a great caravan grazing in the dis- 
tance. Just beyond them a blue tent floated like a huge 
bird in the mirage. Then it settled definitely to earth and 
the American flag streamed out from its peak. 

Our Mongols greeted us with joyous shouts. They had 
waited here, seven miles from the lamasery, because the 
feed was better. The camels were fit, the gasoline was 
not leaking overmuch, and generally all was well. We 
camped that night beside them. For the first time I felt 
that the Expedition was really under way after the two 
years' struggle with war and brigands, officials and dip- 
lomacy. The Gobi lay in front of us; our only opponents 
were the natural forces of the desert. 

It was eight o'clock before we left camp the following 
morning. Until the sun was high we were comfortable in 
172 



IN THE DESERT AT LAST 



our fur coats and sweaters, shedding them in layers every 
hour. The Shara Murun River was dry and we drove up 
the broad valley on a trail like a race track. Gazelles were 
everywhere. We saw one herd in which both the desert 
and grassland species were feeding togethera very rare 
occurrence. 

The Tukum temple lay white and dazzling four miles 
from Viper Camp, but we stopped only for a moment to 
greet the Mongols. By ten o'clock we had reached Viper 
Camp and swung north on the peneplain to Chimney 
Butte where, in 1925, a fossil quarry had been discovered. 
The old motor tracks were still visible as lighter green 
streaks where the snow and rain had settled in the de- 
pressions and given them a little more moisture than the 
surrounding plain. 

Camp was pitched on a promontory close to the edge 
of the escarpment. Below us on three sides lay a gigantic 
relief map of painted badlands, gray and red buttes, 
ravines and canyons. In a narrow valley to the south of 
our projection were two yurts surrounded by a rampart 
of argul (dried dung) a welcome sight, for it solved the 
fuel problem during our stay. 

I knew it was unwise to be without wind protection 
in the spring but the top of the mesa was the only possible 
place for our fifteen tents; moreover there was no prec- 
edent for the utterly poisonous weather which was served 
out to us during the next month. 



173 



CHAPTER XII 



Gobi Sandstorms 

A BREATHLESS silence, suddenly dropping like a pall 
over the desert, brought me out from dinner in the mess 
tent the night we made camp. In the west a tawny cloud 
shot through with shafts of dull red boiled up out of the 
flaming pit into which the sun had disappeared. Already 
the purple line of distant mountains was blotted from 
the sky. A twisting, whirling skirmish line of tiny wind 
devils danced their way across the basin floor. Behind 
them the solid yellow mass advanced swiftly, ominously, 
engulfing the hills and canyons of the badlands like a 
devouring monster. Slowly we became conscious of a 
pulsing throb which beat upon our eardrums in an un- 
earthly, soundless noise, -< 

"Stand by for a blow! Rope the tents! Drive in the 
pegs! Get the cars around in front!" 

At my shout the camp leaped into action. Hammers 
rang on the steel tent pegs; motors coughed and roared 
as the cars were lined in front to form a windbreak; there 
was a babel of shouts in Mongol, Chinese and English. 
The steady beat of the advancing gale changed to a rising 
hum, but as yet there was no wind. Suddenly, with a hiss, 
gusts of cold air like blasts from a snow field swept the 
camp. A moment later the storm had swallowed up 
the tents, tearing madly at the blue cloth. Clinging to the 
174 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



poles, we tried to keep our frail shelters upright. Blasts 
of gravel, like exploding shrapnel, brought blood to our 
faces. We could breathe only air thick with sand. 

Granger and I weathered the first furious attack in 
the mess tent, but a great, jagged window had opened 
in the back. During a sudden lull I looked out upon a 
scene of chaos. The cooks were homeless, their tent only 
a mass of ragged streamers. Three of the others were 
down; the rest sagged drunkenly. 

Thus began a night which I shall long remember. 
Perhaps one might not call it a real honest-to-goodness 
hardship, but for sheer discomfort it was one of the worst 
I have ever spent. Every one had his own troubles; so 
many of them, in fact, that there was little we could do 
to help one another. Most of the men elected to stay 
where they were under the flapping ruins of their tents, 
for those that remained standing were shelters in name 
only. The storm's first attack was the most vicious, but 
the others which followed in irregular salvos almost 
equaled it. Sleep was impossible. As for myself, I could 
hardly breathe. Seemingly a raging devil stood beside my 
head with buckets of sand, ready to dash them into my 
face the moment I came up for air out of the sleeping 
bag. There was something distinctly personal about the 
storm. It was not just a violent disturbance of the un- 
thinking elements. It acted like a calculating evil beast. 
After each raging attack it would draw off for a few 
moments' rest. The air, hanging motionless, allowed the 
suspended sand to sift gently down into our smarting 
eyes. Then, with a sudden spring, the storm devil was 

175 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



on us again, clawing, striking, ripping, seeming to roar 
in fury that any of the tents still stood. 

Thus it continued throughout a night of thrice the 
number of hours any respectable night should have. Now 
and then one of us would call to his companions in suffer- 
ing, to be answered by smothered curses in three lan- 
guages. The curses kept me cheerful. As long as a man 
can swear he is all right and in reasonably good spirits. 
After an indeterminable time we knew that morning had 
come by a change in the color of the enveloping cloud 
from black to yellow. That the wind would drop with 
the sun, we devoutly prayed. It did, and there were three 
hours of comparative quiet, allowing us to patch the 
least damaged tents. Then the particular devil that had 
been assigned to the day shift took up his duties with 
energy and vigor. 

We spent a miserable twelve hours huddled in fur 
coats, for it had become bitterly cold. One could neither 
read nor write because of the falling sand; conversation 
was possible only through half-closed lips. Nothing to do 
but sit and think. Personally, I just sat. 

At sunset there came a dead calm which lasted 
throughout the night, but the wind began again the fol- 
lowing morning. For a month we had just one gale after 
another. The first one I have described; the others varied 
only in intensity. Day after day the men sat in the tents 
unable to work. When they could get into the badlands 
the results were gratifying. The first discovery was the 
course of an ancient stream which had run upon the 
surface fifty million years ago. The stream's bed could 
easily be traced where it was exposed in cross section-at 
176 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



the bottom the heaviest gravel; above it a finer layer, and 
still higher the lightest sand. Thousands of animals had 
died and fallen into the river during the Eocene, or Dawn, 
Period of the Age of Mammals. Parts of their skeletons 
had been buried and preserved in the fine sand and silt. 
In some spots they formed a breccia of bones, almost 
like a heap of jackstraws. Birds, fish, turtles, rodents, 
carnivores and other mammals lay in an indescribable 
tangle. It required the highest skill to separate one from 
the other. It is not spectacular work, for they can mean 
little to any but the specialist. Nevertheless, a collection 
of such varied types gives us a picture of the life of the 
world in those distant days. Each one is like a tiny flame 
illuminating an infinitesimal patch in the darkness of 
six million years. 

As soon as the work was well under way I left the 
camp in charge of Walter Granger, Second in Command, 
and started for an exploration of the country to the south- 
west. With me were Capt. W. P. T. Hill, U.S.M.C., 
topographer, McKenzie Young, chief of motor transport, 
J. B. Shackelford, photographer, and Lieut. J. A. Perez, 
U.S.N., surgeon. Our object was to discover a trail 
which would take us into the far-western desert to Chinese 
Turkestan. This was the country we had intended to ex- 
plore in 1926. Since that time Dr. Sven Hedin, the famous 
Tibetan explorer, had gone through it with a caravan of 
two hundred and eighty camels. No direct word from 
Doctor Hedin had been received since his departure two 
years earlier, but vague reports indicated that they had 
had a very hard time in a frightful desert; moreover, 
political difficulties had halted them for three months at 

177 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the Turkestan frontier. Although Hedin's work was 
largely meteorological and quite different from ours, I 
did not want to follow in his footsteps. We were con- 
siderably handicapped in finding a new route by the fact 
that we had no permits for Outer Mongolia and could 
not risk a fight with the border guards if we crossed the 
frontier even for a short distance. 

Our reconnaissance party left on April twenty-sixth 
in two cars, with food and gasoline for ten days. Tserin, 
the caravan leader, was with us in order that he might 
know where to take the camels if we found a practicable 
route. Running south and west we investigated every 
trail which appeared to lead in the right direction. All 
of them proved to be valueless, and we struck across the 
plains, traveling by compass. It was exactly like navigating 
a ship at sea. Captain Hill took our directions at every 
twist or turn and later plotted them upon his map. At 
night he determined our position by the stars. The going 
was not bad as a whole until we entered a wide range of 
low, granited ridges washed with sand. These gave us 
some hard work, but the worst was when we stopped for 
water at a well near a small pond. Apparently the gravel 
was bone dry. As Mac Young was driving away, his car 
suddenly sank by the stern and came to rest with the 
engine pointing at the clouds. Under the six-inch crust 
was a mass of jellylike mud. Experience has taught us 
that there is one thing to do in such cases, and only one. 
No use asking for a short cut to freedom. Collect stones, 
brush, bones, anything solid and sink a foundation be- 
side each rear wheel. Every push of the jack presses the 
rock a little farther into the mud, but eventually it will 
178 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



hold. In this particular instance it seemed as though we 
would shove the stones straight through to New York. 
We can guarantee that at least one small part of Mongolia 
is firmly ballasted, for three of us collected rocks for four 
hours, and all of them went straight down. But inch by 
inch Mac built a foundation up to ground level and laid 
a neat causeway in front. Then, with the other car towing 
and all hands pushing, out it came. 

A week of exploration served to show that the only 
possible trail to the westward was the one which Sven 
Hedin had followed. A Chinese with a caravan who had 
been gone two years told us that there was little water or 
feed; also that no motor car could possibly travel through 
the enormous sand dunes on the trail. But we have 
learned that native ideas of what one can or cannot do 
usually are valueless, and were not unduly depressed. For 
once they were right, however, as later events proved. 

The evening of the last day before we returned to the 
main camp we came suddenly to the valley of the Shara 
Murun. Two twin buttes lay well out in the basin itself 
which at this point is very wide. The edge of the pene- 
plain on which we had been traveling breaks off in an 
almost perpendicular descent to the branches of the river 
three hundred feet below. After considerable search we 
discovered a steep slope on which the cars could reach 
the valley bottom; and there our tents were pitched. The 
escarpment was beautifully exposed, but two hours' search 
gave us only a few fragments of fossil bone from both 
the highest and lowest levels. The deposit was evidently 
stream work and was largely composed of very coarse 
gravel. We could not hope to find important specimens, 

179 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



as everything would have been rolled and broken by the 
rapid stream action. Enormous quantities of gypsum were 
present in beautiful blocks and squares. Strangely enough, 
all the Mongolian deposits that contain gypsum are vir- 
tually unfossiliferous. 

At nine o'clock it began to rain and continued steadily 
until that time the next morning. To climb up the steep 
slope, softened by rain, to the peneplain three hundred 
feet above us would have been impossible for less strongly 
built cars than our Dodges. The entire country was ob- 
scured by a dense fog, and we could see not more than 
a hundred yards in any direction. Captain Hill set a 
compass course for the Baron Sog temple, but long be- 
fore we reached the trail a violent wind swept away the 
gray mist. Every hour the gale increased and when we 
reached camp at Chimney Butte we found all the men 
huddled in the tents. The last twenty miles had been a 
bitter fight against the bursts of sand and gravel which 
cut our faces and made it well-nigh impossible to drive. 
The windshield glasses of both cars were so badly sand- 
blasted that they had to be removed. 

After a consultation I found all the staff unanimooSf 
that we should still make the western trip even though 
it was necessary to follow in the main the route taken by 
Hedin's expedition. I decided to start the camels imme- 
diately so that they could get well on the way before we 
ourselves left Chimney Butte where the Expedition's staff 
all were busy and doing valuable work during the in- 
tervals between the sandstorms. From the caravan we re- 
moved food for three weeks and gasoline to carry the 
fleet five hundred miles. It was a most disagreeable day's 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



work because the "false spring" had given place to cold 
sleet and fierce gales. 

Granger, Pond, Spock and Horvath made an explora- 
tion trip to the east across the Shara Murun. The follow- 
ing day they returned having been driven back by the 
gale which blew incessantly. Nevertheless they had dis- 
covered several large exposures which warranted careful 
investigation. The camels had left and there was nothing 
that we could do. The terrific wind made work in the 
fossil pits impossible; it had become very cold; the drift- 
ing sand and dust so filled our eyes that it was difficult 
either to read or write; muffled in fur coats we could 
only sit and listen to the roar of the gale and the slating 
of the tents. 

The wind had continued with only short interruptions 
for more than a week. Every one's nerves were on edge. 
During the intervals of comparative calm the men would 
work in the fossil fields for a few hours, but they could 
not endure the sharp particles of gravel which stung and 
cut their faces. The quarry yielded some excellent fossils. 
As it must certainly have been the slack side of a small 
river where there was virtually no current, the specimens 
were well preserved, although separated into individual 
bones. Even though we might have continued to work the 
stream bed with profit for some weeks longer, I decided 
to move camp to the new exposures to the east of the 
Shara Murun which Granger had discovered. We might 
find a more sheltered camp site and the mere fact of 
being in a new place with new vistas to look at would 
quiet the nerves of every one. Under such conditions I've 

181 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



always found it a good plan to move even if it is only a 
mile or two. 

On May fifth we started happily for our new hunting 
grounds. As usual, Shackelford and I drove considerably 
in advance of the main fleet. Just after crossing the Shara 
Marun I wounded an antelope and left the car to finish 
it with my .38 caliber revolver. There was a safety catch 
in the holster to keep the gun from dropping out. In 
releasing it my finger slipped off the catch, pressed the 
trigger, and the double-action revolver exploded against 
my left leg. 

The heavy bullet struck me such a terrific blow that I 
went down as though felled by a sledge. While Shackel- 
ford drove back in the car for the surgeon I discovered 
that the bullet had entered midway of the thigh on the 
left side, ranged downward and emerged below the knee, 
just nicking the distal end of the femur. After ascertain- 
ing that I could move my knee I lighted a cigarette and 
felt almost happy. Visions of a stiff leg and no more ex- 
ploring, polo or hunting for the rest of my life had been 
distinctly depressing. 

It was just such an event that we had always been 
expecting. During three years, with from thirty-five to 
forty men in the field, we had had no serious accidents. 
Something really was coming to us. Fortunately, we had 
a first-class surgeon. Through the courtesy of the Secre- 
tary of the Navy and Brigadier General Smedley Butler, 
commanding the Third Brigade of U. S. Marines at 
Tientsin, Dr. J. A. Perez, U. S. Navy, had been detailed 
to the Expedition. When he arrived he probed the long 
bullet course and put on a first-aid dressing; then I was 
182 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



carted to camp. The only view I had was the sky, but 
Granger said that we were in a shallow depression where 
the tents were somewhat protected from the wind. 

In the afternoon Doctor Perez performed a very skill- 
ful operation with the assistance of McKenzie Young. 
The wound was filled with bits of leather and cloth. 
The surgeon had to cut along the bullet course for a 
considerable distance and clean it thoroughly and sew 
up the torn muscles. Shu, our mess boy, stood by to hand 
things, but tears streamed down his face so that he could 
hardly see. The doctor had given me such a shot of mor- 
phine that the world looked bright and rosy; in fact, I 
was rather pleased with myself. But the next day, when 
the morphine jag had worn off and a sandstorm raged, 
black clouds seemed to have obscured my particular sun. 

I had a high fever and a fresh gale began to blow 
from the north. Blasts of sand and gravel swept into the 
tent in spite of everything that could be done. It was 
difficult to breathe. Because of the extraordinary pre- 
cautions necessitated by the flying sand, the dressings were 
terrible. The tent was always filled with a yellow haze 
and the never-ceasing flap of cloth did not tend to soothe 
one's nerves. No greater compliment can be paid to 
Doctor Perez than that, in spite of such conditions, he 
kept the long bullet track absolutely free from infection. 
It began to heal perfectly and in ten days I was able to 
sit up during intervals of comparative calm. 

Meanwhile work went on whenever the flying sand 
allowed our men to get out into the fossil fields. The 
deposits were comparatively rich, but the fauna was so 

18* 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



like another veritable gold mine that I will tell of the 
strange beasts later. 

On May isth we had such a terrific sandstorm that 
no one could leave the tents. In addition the temperature 
dropped many degrees and the wind was bitterly cold. 
Granger, Horvath, Hill and Shackelford were to make 
an exploration trip east as far as Iren Dabasu (Erhlien), 
and they left the next day even though the wind was still 
blowing a full gale. A bright sun raised the temperature 
somewhat but still they needed their heavy fur coats. 
But the following day was so cold that ice formed in the 
water buckets even in our tents, and the sandstorm con- 
tinued with unabated violence. I think that no one who 
has not endured sandstorms can understand how difficult 
it is. Physically weak, in continual pain and with fever, 
it became well-nigh unendurable to me. Often I had to 
bury my head in the blankets to keep from screaming. 
It seemed that something in my brain would crack unless 
there could be a rest from the smash and roar of the 
wind, the slatting of tents and the smothering blasts of 
gravel. But not a respite did we get. Sometimes there 
was an hour of comparative calm as the wind died with 
the sun, but before the after-glow had faded from the 
sky a new gale had burst upon us. 

At last, on May i6th, after a night of bitter cold, the 
sun lay soft and warm in the tent. Only a gentle breeze 
played over the green-tinged plains. I felt a surge of new 
strength and a great desire to be up and out. Mac Young 
had improvised a useful crutch out of sticks from Shackel- 
ford s portable dark room and I could hobble about quite 
comfortably. At a spring three or four miles away, the 




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2 



GOBI SANDSTORMS 



sand grouse came in hundreds and Young, the doctor 
and I drove there in the open car. Placed behind a high 
mound with a patch of water in front I had excellent 
shooting at the birds which came in like bullets to circle 
about the stream. It was a veritable release from prison 
and I felt new life soaking into me from the sun-drenched 
earth. 

About seven o'clock of the next evening Granger and 
his party returned from the Iren Dabasu trip. It had been 
very successful. They discovered that the sedimentary 
basin continues for more than a hundred miles to the 
northeast and is well exposed in many places. Excellent 
prospects were offered for palaeontological investigation. 
While they were at Iren Dabasu Granger had spent a 
few hours at the Cretaceous dinosaur beds where Johnson 
and Kaisen had worked for several weeks in 1923. He 
found a quantity of dinosaur egg shells and was convinced 
that the exposure was an extensive nest site for the duck- 
bill and other dinosaurs. 

They also obtained unsatisfactory war news at the 
telegraph station. The so-called Nationalists had taken 
Techow, only ninety miles from Tientsin, and were 
steadily pushing northward. There had been serious 
trouble in Tsinanfu, Shantung, which had been quelled 
by the Japanese with a loss of some two thousand Chinese 
soldiers. Colonel Holcomb, Commander of the U. S. 
Legation Guard, reported Peking quiet. Only a few cars 
had ventured on the Urga road because of the bandits. 

The next day we were visited by an official of Durbet 
Wang, the prince of the district in which we were work- 
ing. He had with him six heavily armed and picturesque 

185 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Mongol soldiers. Subsequently we discovered that more 
than twenty others were concealed behind the surround- 
ing hills within easy shooting distance of the tents. They 
were taking no chances of riding into an unfriendly camp. 
The official and one of the others spoke Chinese well. I 
received them in the mess tent, giving them tea and 
cigarettes. They asked about our work and we showed 
them the fossils and explained that these beasts lived in 
Mongolia long, long ago. They seemed really interested 
and impressed. After photographing and giving them a 
Victrola concert they rode away in good spirits. 

On May igth I drove over to Baron Sog lamasery to 
ask if we could leave our fossils there until our return. 
They had refused in 1925 because of the "rinderpest," 
which the lamas had said was the result of our digging 
up fossil bones. The spirits were angry. After considerable 
talk with the head lama and a promise of fifty dollars, 
he agreed that the spirits might be pacified if we kept 
it a profound secret among ourselves. 



186 



CHAPTER XIII 



Westward Into the Desert 

MY strength had returned so rapidly during four or five 
days of fine weather that the doctor agreed to let us start 
westward and we left on May soth. 

Not more than five miles from our camp that night 
was the residence of Failing Wang, prince of the district. 
The name means "Prince of Larks" and the entire Failing 
Miao region is known as the "Land of the Larks." The 
Mongolian lark, which is the most abundant bird both 
in the grasslands and on the desert, is highly prized by 
the Chinese. They are excellent singers and mock the 
songs of other birds and the miaow of a cat in a remark- 
able way. In this region as elsewhere in the grasslands, 
Chinese come to catch the nestlings for market. In Peking 
a good singer brings five dollars (Mex.) and specially 
trained birds much more than that. 

At Failing Miao, the "Temple of the Larks," we were 
told that our caravan was awaiting us fifteen or twenty 
miles to the west. Why they had stopped I could not 
imagine. The trail led us up and down a series of grassy 
hills, broken by many outcrops of hard rocks. Spock was 
happy, for the structure changed continually and he ob- 
tained most interesting data on the old rock formations. 

Only thirteen miles from Failing Miao we discovered 
our caravan camped near the trail. Tserin said that there 

187 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



was a Chinese yamen (official dwelling) a few miles away 
which had been giving all caravans so much trouble that 
he did not dare go on without our presence. The feed 
had been so poor all the way from Shara Murun south- 
ward that the camels were very hungry. Several had died, 
and I decided to send back thirty-one of the weakest 
animals which we could relieve of their gasoline loads. 
The lamas at Baron Sog Monastery would care for them 
and they would be fat and strong upon our return. 

The yamen proved to be a tax station between Chahar 
and Suiyuan. The officials were decidedly nervous about 
asking us for taxes, but as it was a legitimate provincial 
station and their credentials were quite in order, I was 
willing to pay ninety-one cents per camel, as did the 
regular caravans. 

That night, just before dark, we heard joyful shouts 
in Mongol and Chinese. Over the hill, out of the sunset 
glow, came a small caravan; the men were running ahead 
wildly embracing our Mongols. Soon we saw that it was 
a detachment of Hedin's expedition returning from 
Turkestan. There were twenty Mongols and three 
Chinese. Most of the former had been with us at some 
time and were old friends. Sitting in a circle there in the 
softly glowing twilight, with the aid of rude maps traced 
in the sand, we heard their story. Hedin had had a good 
deal of political trouble at the Turkestan frontier, but 
finally had been allowed to proceed with some of his 
expedition. These men were returning with the collec- 
tions to their homes north of Kalgan after more than a 
year's absence. 

All of them were gaunt, with hollow cheeks and 
188 



WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 



hungry eyes. For weeks their only food had been camel 
meat and a few split peas. Money they had in plenty, but 
there were no Mongols who could sell them sheep. Little 
water, no food and few inhabitants; sand dunes of vast 
extent through which they had wandered for days seeking 
a passage for their dying camels. A country of utter deso- 
lation. It was not a cheerful picture. Nevertheless, I 
decided to push on as far as possible, for there might be 
fossil deposits which would be worth the effort. I hoped, 
too, that we could circle the sand to the north and still 
keep in Inner Mongolia. 

The topographers went ahead the next day, but I 
remained with the others to see the caravan safely past 
the yamen. That night a caravan of Shansi men with one 
hundred and fifty camels camped near us. They were 
carrying goat skins, on the return trip from Urunichi to 
Kwei-hua-cheng, and had been ten weeks on the road. 
With them were two Chinese passengers; they rode in a 
felt-lined box on either side of the same camel. The boxes 
looked exactly like dog kennels. Although they were well 
padded inside, it must have been torture to ride in them 
because of their small size. As soon as the camels arrived, 
the caravan men pitched a small tent for the two Chinese 
passengers, who enthroned themselves upon a pile of bed- 
ding and gazed out upon the world in a most superior 
fashion. Having spent the day in their kennels one would 
have thought that they would like to stretch their legs a 
bit, but their only exercise consisted in walking from the 
camel to their tent. 

The Gobi caravan men are hard-bitten fellows, with a 
certain reckless swing about their carriage and a terseness 

180 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



in conversation which suggests the wild, free plains on 
which they spend their lives. They invited us to have tea 
with them. Fortunately, I can understand the Shansi 
dialect and was able to get a good deal of information 
regarding the country to the west. They told us that the 
great sand began near a temple called Shandan Miao and 
that it would be absolutely impossible to cross it with 
cars. Still I was determined to push on and see for our- 
selves. 

We left the yamen at eight o'clock the next morning 
and soon met the topographers. They had camped at 
dark the night before near a well in the stream bed. 
Hardly had their tents been pitched before fifteen vil- 
lainous looking Chinese armed with Mauser pistols rode 
in and camped near them. They were opium smugglers 
from Kansu who had sold their drugs in Kwei-hwa-cheng 
and now were returning for another consignment. We 
had heard of their activities. They took a sheep whenever 
they needed it for food, but confined their robbing to 
fast ponies except when some especially rich prize came 
their way. 

Granger arranged the four cars in a square with the 
tents inside and the spot lights illumined all of the sur- 
roundings. Two men remained on guard all night. 
Although the bandits doubtless would have greatly liked 
our rifles and cars, they were afraid to attack as they saw 
that our party were well armed and watchful. After the 
smugglers made camp, one of them rode back along the 
trail to see if they were being followed, ft was lucky that 
the topographers had four cars; if there had been but 
one or two they would certainly have had a fight. 
190 



WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 



These opium runners are usually much more cou- 
rageous men than the ordinary Chinese bandits. On the 
outward trip, loaded with opium, they would not stop 
for ordinary robbery. They want only to be let alone. 
But on the return trip they become much more dangerous 
individuals. Motor cars would have been a heaven-sent 
method of rapid travel. As a matter of fact, when the 
Expeditions ended in 1930 I sold two of our cars to 
Chinese who, I later heard, used them for running opium 
from Kansu. 

At daylight next morning the bandits left. Our de- 
tachment passed them farther to the west. They were 
traveling at a fast trot which would average about six 
miles an hour. Some Chinese living beside the trail told 
us all about the smugglers, who were well known. 

In the afternoon we arrived at a deserted monastery, 
Shirigi-in-sumu, which was the farthest point we had 
reached during our reconnaissance in 1925 and where I 
decided to await our caravan. In the short run of forty- 
two miles from the yamen, we had come into an entirely 
different region. The grasslands had gradually given place 
to an exceedingly arid desert, where the only vegetation 
was sparse camel sage, scattered over rolling sandy hills. 

The deserted temple stands in a great amphitheater 
among the hard rock ridges, and is approached through 
a narrow gateway in the southernmost range. It is a 
desolate spot, for the black lava ridges and yellow sand 
are relieved by hardly a touch of green. We were told 
that there were wild sheep in the mountains and I shot 
both species of antelope in the lowlands to the south. 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Chukkar, or red-legged partridge and quail were fairly 
plentiful on the ridges. 

The next day, May syth, was quite the hottest of the 
spring thus far. There was a dead calm until about ten 
o'clock, when strong whirlwinds began to appear every- 
where on the desert. McKenzie Young went back to the 
caravan to bring up a load of gasoline. He returned at 
four o'clock in the afternoon and reported that the camels 
were coming on very slowly because they were weak from 
lack of food. We had already discovered that on this trail 
the caravan men carry dried peas for their camels. In no 
other part of Mongolia had I traveled a region which was 
so desolate that there was not sufficient vegetation to feed 
a camel. 

May 2 gth was an exceedingly hot day with a strong 
wind. It died at sunset, but about ten-thirty in the eve- 
ning it began to blow hard. By eleven o'clock one of the 
worst gales I have ever experienced in Mongolia was 
howling down through the rocky gateway from the north. 
We lashed and weighted the tents, but it was impossible 
to keep out the blasts of sand and gravel. 

The next day we spent a miserable twelve hours 
huddled in fur coats, for it had become bitterly cold. The 
wind dropped a little late in the afternoon and the cara- 
van arrived. I took out supplies and directed Tserin to 
wait at the river until I sent him word. The camels were 
becoming so weak from lack of food that it was obvious 
they could not go on under such conditions. 

Much to our disappointment, we found that the topog- 
raphers had made little progress. They had been stopped 
by Mongol soldiers about ten miles from the ruined 
192 



WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 



temple. The Mongols had posted men with rifles on sev- 
eral hilltops evidently expecting a fight from our people. 
Granger had explained our work to them, but they would 
not allow the topographers to go forward until they had 
reported to their prince who was some fifty miles away. 
Since the Mongols had not returned, I told the topog- 
raphers to break camp and carry on the work. Granger 
said that his party had fared somewhat better in the sand- 
storm than we had, for they were under the lee of a hill, 
but that two of their tents had been badly ripped. 

The entire region was more arid and depressing than 
any that I have seen in Mongolia. It was totally unlike 
the Gobi as we had seen it north of the Altai Mountains. 
Each day the going became heavier and we were literally 
fighting for every mile. There were none of the wide 
spaces of the northern Gobi. To be shut in, oppressed, 
by naked hard rock ridges without the majesty of size; 
to plow through drifting yellow sand in valleys neither 
wide nor narrow; to look upon the bleaching bones of 
camels, dead from thirst or hunger that is worth endur- 
ing only when it is producing valuable results. Thus far 
we had obtained almost nothing and prospects for better 
success in the future were very dark. 

On June 2nd we reached a fine rolling gravel desert 
much like the peneplains of the north and camped at a 
great exposure of red sediments. The spot gave every 
indication of splendid fossil-bearing deposits, and we 
thought that at last we had found what we had so long 
looked for. In a dry stream bed in the center of the basin 
Shackelford discovered a moist spot. He dug a well, lined 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



it with a gasoline box, and in a short time we had an 
abundant supply of clear cold water. 

The next day dawned bright and warm. Every one 
prospected the badlands, but Buckshot was the only man 
who found bone. His discovery proved to be a large 
Sauropod dinosaur resembling Diplodocus, a species sixty 
or seventy feet in length. The bone was in very bad con- 
dition and Granger soon saw that the best he could do 
was to take a few distinctive parts which would serve 
as the basis for a description of the animal. Doubtless 
it is a new record for Asia and pretty definitely placed 
the formation as Lower Cretaceous near the end of the 
Age of Reptiles. It was the only fossil of value which we 
had obtained since leaving Shara Murnn. Strangely 
enough, the most diligent search of the acres of beautiful 
exposures did not yield another scrap of bone. 

I decided to make a reconnaissance to the west with 
two cars, leaving the others to await my report. The 
terrain was rapidly becoming impassable for our cars 
because of the drifting sand, and we had the statements 
of Hedin's party and the caravan men that motors could 
not possibly pass the great sand area farther west. We 
were exhausting our gasoline and men, wrecking the cars.,, 
losing many camels by starvation, and obtaining 
no results. Unless there was a very decided cnang&'for the 
better I determined to abandon the western exploration. 
That night over the radio we got time signals per- 
fectly from Cavite, and a few moments later Shackelford 
picked up our call letter from the American Legation in 
Peking. The message came in so distinctly that even in 
my tent several feet away I could hear the dots and dashes. 




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WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 



Shackelford, Horvath and Hill took it down independ- 
ently, then Granger and Shackelford squabbled like two 
crows over the translation, for the message was in code. 
Meanwhile the rest of us impatiently awaited the reading. 
At last we had the following: 

"Marshal Chang Tso-lin retreated yesterday 
in Manchuria. The Southerners are expected in 
Peking very soon. Everything normal in Peking 
and no trouble is expected. All are well. It is 
rumored you are returning next week." 

It was an interesting message for us. Since our permits 
were all from the Chang Tso-lin government, they would 
be worthless with the southerners. It was fortunate that 
the change had taken place so early in the spring, for by 
the time we were ready to return in the autumn an ad- 
justment probably would have been made. Just how the 
"rumors"'of our return could have arisen we were unable 
to understand. Still I know of no other city in the world 
where there are so many rumors as in Peking. 

Our Chinese, all northerners, were greatly excited by 
the news. The invasion of the southerners was that of an 
alien people for them. To add to their depression, there 
was an eclipse of the moon that night. We watched the 
black shadow slowly swallow the bright orb until only the 
lower edge remained unobscured. The Chinese were sure 
that it augured badly for the future of their country! 

The next morning, Young, Hill, Spock, Perez and I 
left with two cars for the west. A few miles took us off 
the peneplain and into a lava ridge where the going was 

195 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



extremely rough. The black rocks were drifted with yel- 
low sand and showed hardly a trace of green. Descending 
to a dry river bed, we went directly southward between 
high barren and sand-swept hills. It was inexpressibly 
desolate; like being enclosed in a sand-walled prison. 

Pushing the cars every few hundred yards, we emerged 
at last through a narrow gateway into a great open basin. 
It was the edge of the vast depression which we had tried 
unsuccessfully to reach from the north in 1925 and where 
it appeared probable there would be fossil-bearing rocks. 

In the distance a beautiful red mesa and many isolated 
buttes showed encouragingly against the sky. We thought 
that at last our efforts had been rewarded and that we 
had reached the Promised Land. But a closer view re- 
vealed that the escarpments were banked almost to the 
top with blown sand. Every one of the buttes in sight were 
in the same discouraging condition. 

The floor of the basin showed as a yellow blanket, 
but we pushed on southward. I use the word "push" ad- 
visedly, for that exactly expresses our progress. The cars 
could go only a short distance under their own power; 
then every one out, and with rope-bound canvas strips 
laid down in front, strain and push until the car had 
reached an area of harder sand. Such work is difficult at 
any time, but under a blazing sun with the temperature 
at 145 F. it becomes doubly exhausting. 

Two juris were pitched well out in the basin and 
occupied by Chinese who appeared to be as desolate and 
miserable as the country in which they were living. They 
told us that the name of the region meant "The Very 
Bad Place/' 

196 



WESTWARD INTO THE DESERT 



Three abandoned camels were lying beside the trail, 
alive but too weak to raise their heads. Gobi caravan men 
never kill an exhausted camel while on the march. They 
believe that its spirit might follow the caravan and cause 
trouble among the other camels. Instead they leave it to 
die a lingering death of thirst or starvation. After these 
three were dead, the resident Chinese would strip them 
of their skins, which can be sold for five or six dollars. 

Eventually we reached a flat ridge near the end of the 
red mesa. It was only a quarter of a mile wide and we 
looked down into another basin spotted with tamarisk 
bushes about two feet high growing out of a heavy sand 
blanket. Another ridge separated this basin from a third 
filled with deeper sand and smaller tamarisks. 

At last that was crossed. A fourth and worse basin 
shimmered with waves of heat. In its center the sand 
defeated us. Utterly exhausted from pushing, we left the 
cars where they were and dragged ourselves forward half 
a mile to the western rim. A depression so wide that its 
limits could not be seen lay before us like a yellow 
blanket, specked with olive green. It seemed to stretch 
on to the edge of the world, a lifeless sea of burning sand. 
To enter it with motors was absurd; only camels could 
carry on to the other side. It marked the end of the trail 
for us. 

The return trip was fairly rapid because our outgoing 
tracks gave much assistance. When we reached camp I 
told the men that the western trip must be abandoned. 
Motor cars simply could not be used satisfactorily in this 
region. Conditions were utterly different from those in 
Outer Mongolia where we had worked in previous years. 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



There the desert is of steppe formation and has a gravel 
floor with sand only in infrequent dunes, long and nar- 
row. Here, we were on the northern edge of the Alashan 
Desert from which the drifting sand sweeps up to meet 
the true Gobi. Camels are the only possible transport for 
this region, and even they have great difficulty because 
there is so little feed. Had we been obtaining important 
results in the different branches of science represented in 
the Expedition, it might have been worth while fighting 
the sand or leaving the cars and continuing on camels. 
But the returns for our investment of work and time were 
virtually nothing. 

Abandoning the western trip meant revising the en- 
tire plans of the Expedition. A great area of Eastern 
Mongolia still remained almost unknown. There we 
would go as fast as we could extricate ourselves from 
the devouring sand. 



198 



CHAPTER XIV 



Eastward Into a New Land 

RETURNING, we found Tserin encamped at the river 
a few miles from the ruined temple. Five of the camels 
were dead; many others could barely drag themselves 
along without loads. This trail to Chinese Turkestan 
must take a terrible toll of both animal and human life. 
As far as we had gone the way was marked with dead 
and dying camels. Nowhere north of the Altais had we 
encountered a region of such utter desolation, and all 
reports said it was much worse farther west. 

About twenty-five miles farther on we camped, near 
the base of the lava mountains, in order to give Doctor 
Perez and Horvath a chance to hunt big horn sheep. 
Neither had ever seen a live argali and they were both 
wildly excited. 

We could find no ponies or Mongols to guide the 
doctor, but at daylight he and Horvath went out alone. 
It was a blistering hot day, and at noon Horvath returned, 
completely exhausted. They had found sheep in the first 
hour, missed a big ram, and he had killed a small one. 
The doctor continued alone. 

At five o'clock we saw a weird figure slowly approach- 
ing camp. It looked like a man, but had strange projec- 
tions in the region of the ears. As it came nearer we made 
it out to be our surgeon. He was dragging painfully, just 

199 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



able to walk. A huge pair of horns rested on his head 
while the neck-skin flapped disconsolately about his face. 
Soon he shifted it to his shoulders. Then he tried both 
hips. When he saw that we had discovered him he threw 
his burden on the ground, kicked it disgustedly, and 
collapsed upon a rock. Young drove out with a car to 
collect the remains. 

The doctor had had a hard day. He killed his sheep 
about ten o'clock many miles from camp. Then he dis- 
covered that he had forgotten to take a rope. A sixty-five- 
pound sheep's head is about the most awkward thing to 
carry that I know of, if one cannot make a sling to get it 
on his back. There was not a vine or a green branch 
on those bare hills and the sun beat down with one hun- 
dred and thirty degrees of heat. Perez had his field glasses, 
canteen, knife, rifle and ammunition, in addition to the 
head. By the time he had walked five miles and climbed 
up and down four ridges, he had come to hate the thing. 
He was sore all over and rubbed raw by the horn ridges. 
But it was a magnificent specimen and his first argali. The 
horns measured forty-one inches in length and nineteen 
inches in circumference at the base. Any sportsman can 
understand why he stuck by it. He said that he knew he 
never would have returned there if he had left it and 
gone back to camp. The day was too hot, the way too 
long and the mountains too rough. He swore that his 
sheep hunting had ended forever, but the next morning 
I noticed that he threw out tentative suggestions about 
another day's delay. 

The doctor had seen two other fine rams in his few 
hours' hunt, and we examined a dozen pairs of enormous 
200 



EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 



horns along the base of the ridge. The Mongols assured 
us that the low mountains were full of sheep. Possibly 
no other white men have hunted there and the natives 
have no rifles. Leslie Simpson, the African sportsman, now 
holds the record for this species of sheep, beating one of 
mine by an inch or two in length. 

At the yamen there was a new lot of soldiers and 
officials. These were men of General Yen Hsi-shan, who 
had already replaced the Chang Tso-lin adherents. Al- 
though the former soldiers had collected taxes for one 
year in advance from the poor settlers, the new officials 
were busy levying their own particular taxes. The 
Chinese farmers thus are harried by every change of gov- 
ernment in their particular region. How they manage to 
exist at all is a mystery. If they refuse to pay the taxes 
they are often killed or beaten into submission. 

The return trip to Shara M urun was accomplished 
without incident. We stopped north of Hospital Camp, 
on the edge of a great escarpment. The tents faced east, 
and a beautiful plain swelling to rounded hills lay to the 
south. Northward, behind us, was the saw-toothed rim 
of the bluff from which we looked into a great basin 
splotched with streaks of bright red sediments. The ex- 
posures along the escarpment are mostly gray. 

Just below the tents water from the spring formed an 
intermittent stream in the basin where sand grouse con- 
tinually came to drink. Two ruddy sheldrakes chattered 
and called, and twice we saw a fox disappear over the 
basin's rim; he must have had a wife and family in a 
burrow of the escarpment. 

Captain Hill and Dr. Spock immediately began a 

2O i 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



topographic and geologic map of the badland area. Pond 
hunted artifacts, finding several stations close to the 
spring, and the palaeontologists all discovered skulls or 
jaws of titanotheres and Hyanodonts before the first day 
had ended. 

It was necessary for Young and Horvath to return to 
the caravan with two cars, to bring gasoline and food 
to us. I estimated that because of the weakened camels the 
caravan could not arrive in less than three weeks. In the 
meantime I wished to make a reconnaissance of the region 
east of the Kalgan-Urga trail Even the inaccurate maps 
of Mongolia left it vacant. Its topography was unknown; 
not a ray of light penetrated the darkness of its geology 
and palaeontology except just north of the Chinese fron- 
tier. Without additional food and gasoline the explora- 
tion would be impossible. Relaying supplies by car in 
this way was most expensive, but there was no other 
method due to the breakdown of our camel transport. 

The work went on most satisfactorily. Granger discov- 
ered half a dozen skulls and jaws of small carnivores, and 
several beautiful skulls and jaws of titanotheres were 
found by various members of the party. 

One day Pond made a most important discovery. A 
picturesque Mongol rode into camp carrying an anti- 
quated flintlock gun. Pond noticed that its striking-flint 
was a beautiful Dune Dweller scraper. The old hunter 
said that he got it twenty miles away where there were 
many of them. Next morning Pond collected the Mongol 
at his yurt. It required considerable patience to entice 
him into the car and once there to prevent him from 
leaping out when the motor started. But his fright soon 
202 



EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 



changed to exhilaration. He took Pond on a wild cross- 
country ride, for he evidently thought that a car could go 
wherever a horse could travel. Pond said that the car did 
everything but fly. 

Their destination proved to be a most unimpressive- 
looking spot, not far from the great lake basin southwest 
of the Baron Sog lamasery. It was merely a shallow basin 
among dead sand dunes. But the artifacts were there in 
thousands and Pond returned to camp tremendously 
elated. For his work the Mongol received a silver dollar, 
three gas tins, a bottle, a package of cigarettes and a jam 
tin. He promised to guide Pond to two other localities, 
but his sudden wealth excited the jealousy of a wander- 
ing lama who happened to be in camp. The wretched 
priest told our Mongol that it was "bad joss'* to show 
such places to foreigners and forbade him to go again. 
It was obvious that Pond would have to camp at the sta- 
tion and spend a week or more of careful study. In the 
meantime he found another great station south of Hos- 
pital Camp. 

Young and Horvath returned on June i4th after hav- 
ing made a record trip to and from the caravan. With gas 
and food in hand I decided to make the eastern recon- 
naissance at once. 

To the north of us Granger had discovered a great 
exposure of sediments which obviously were identical in 
formation with those we were on. I asked him to prospect 
them more carefully and, if he deemed it advisable, to 
move camp to the new locality while we were in the east. 
When he did so, Pond could go alone to the Dune Dweller 
site and finish his work. 

203 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



On June i6th I started east with two cars, and Young, 
Hill, Spock and Perez, also three Chinese and a Mongol. 
We had gas and food for a week, and expected to drive 
seven or eight hundred miles. On the first day, before 
reaching Erhlien, the pinion gears on one of the cars 
broke. This is an accident which never had happened be- 
fore with us, and was due to the terrific pounding which 
the gears had sustained in the sand on our western trip. 
Fortunately we had another pinion with us and we 
camped while Young changed it. The break had occurred 
in a sand wash, near a well, but in a difficult place to 
work. It was finished in time for us to reach Erhlien at 
four-thirty the next afternoon. The telegraph operator 
was a genial old Chinese whom we knew from former 
trips. He said that no cars had passed on the Kalgan-Urga 
trail for a month, but that he expected four to arrive that 
evening. General Yen Hsi-shan was then in Peking and 
the political situation was quiet. We camped at our old 
historic site where we had discovered the first strata of the 
Age of Reptiles and the first dinosaurs in 1922. 

That evening the four cars arrived. One, a five-pas- 
senger Dodge touring car, was carrying sixteen hundred 
pounds of baggage and twelve passengers. The auto was 
almost obscured by human bodies projecting at all angles. 
The chauffeur, a Chinese, reported many brigands near 
Cheptsur. 

After leaving ten cases of gasoline at Erhlien for our 
return journey, the next morning we followed a trail east- 
ward which eventually turned to the south. We zigzagged 
back and forth for many hours trying to find an east and 
west trail. Captain Hill took compass directions at every 
204 



EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 



turn, and our navigation was carried on exactly as if we 
were on a ship at sea. Late in the afternoon we found a 
well where we camped. We were then about fifty miles 
east and a little south of Erhlien, although we had trav- 
eled one hundred and twenty-five miles. The well lay in 
a deep basin surrounded by poorly exposed bluffs. At the 
nearest point we discovered fragmentary fossils and great 
masses of fresh-water clam shells arranged in strata. Evi- 
dently we were in an ancient lake basin and the indica- 
tions were that it might be Pliocene. The late Tertiary 
formations were what we were hoping to find in the east 
as they are notably absent in the western Gobi. 

Next morning while the cars were being packed Doc- 
tor Perez and I had good sand grouse shooting at a deep 
pit half filled with rain water, where the birds came to 
drink. Then we drove over to an exposure five miles from 
camp and just off the trail. It marked a part of the north- 
ern rim of the lake basin. The exposures were bad, con- 
sisting mostly of coarse rubble, but on the very summit 
of the escarpment Buckshot discovered a mastodon skele- 
ton partly exposed, also rhinoceros bones. This appeared 
to identify the formation as Pliocene and we were corre- 
spondingly elated. 

Continuing eastward across country, we entered upon 
the largest and flattest peneplain that I have seen in 
Mongolia. It was covered with sparse grass, but there was 
not a sign of water or evidences of any except old camp 
sites. Evidently the Mongols come there only in winter 
when snow can be melted for water. 

On a low hill was an obo (religious monument) visi- 
ble for a long distance. It is used as a landmark for those 

205 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Mongols who venture out upon this vast waterless plain. 
It is a 'lighthouse" in the desert. 

Some miles beyond the obo the plain gradually began 
to slope downward and in a valley we discovered two 
yurts and a few sheep. The Mongol told us that there was 
a well a mile away the only water for a long distance. 
After taking our position, Captain Hill reported that we 
were only a few miles south of the Outer Mongolian bor- 
der. Of course we could not cross, so next morning we 
started southward and eventually found a trail that was 
fairly good but led us through a succession of hard rock 
hills. For tiffin we halted three miles beyond a well where 
there were three yurts and some very friendly Mongols. 
When I started the car after the meal there was the sound 
of a suspicious grating in the region of the differential. 
In a few moments it became evident that the bevel, or 
ring, gear had broken. It was a bad accident for we had 
no spare with us although there were several in the main 
camp. 

Young immediately removed the rear end and found 
our fears realized. There was nothing to do but tow the 
car back to the well and leave it with two of the Chinese 
while we returned for the spare part. This accident, like 
the broken pinion, was due to the terrible strain of work 
in the sand on the western trip. In all our use of Dodge 
Brothers cars, in the previous years of exploration, noth- 
ing had ever happened to the driving gears and we had 
come to think of them as unbreakable. 

The next morning we left at eight o'clock. We had 
given almost all our remaining food to the two Chinese, 
and money with which they could buy sheep from the 
206 



EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 



Mongols. Seven men and gasoline made a heavy load for 
the single car, and we had many doubts about being able 
to negotiate the rough country between us and Erhlien. 
There was nothing else to do, however, and we started off 
full of hope if not confidence. Captain Hill laid a com- 
pass course for Erhlien, which we estimated to be about 
one hundred and twenty-five miles in a direct line. We 
saw only two or three Mongols and they knew little about 
the country or trails except in their immediate vicinity. 
It was a trying experience to negotiate the great waterless 
plain. Had the overloaded car broken we should have 
been in a serious situation. With little food and water 
and no Mongols, it would have meant a long foot march 
and I doubt if all of us would have survived. However, 
the car plowed steadily onward, bumping over the rough 
terrain, without a pause. Eventually we saw what we sup- 
posed was our "lighthouse" 060 on the plain, but it did 
not check with Captain Hill's observations. It was much 
too far to the south. But Hill was certain that he could not 
be mistaken, and we decided after a consultation to con- 
tinue on his course. Subsequently we discovered that 
there were two 0605, almost exactly alike. 

At eight o'clock in the evening we reached Erhlien 
pretty well exhausted from the rough ride and nervous 
uncertainty. It was evident that we had been traveling in 
the most extensive basin yet discovered in Mongolia and 
that it was probably formed mostly of late Tertiary sedi- 
ments. It would yield excellent opportunities for future 
work and doubtless give a new fauna. At the telegragh 
station welcome messages were awaiting us from Peking. 

207 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



One from the American Minister, Mr. J. V. A. Mac- 
Murray, read as follows: 

"Northerners withdrew toward Manchuria 
fortnight ago. Peking government discontinued. 
Peking-Tientsin area and northwest peacefully 
occupied by Shansi Nationalists. Advance of 
Shansi and Kuomintang toward Shanhaikuan 
still progressing. Good luck. MacMurray." 

We heard from the telegraph operator that when the 
northerners withdrew from Kalgan and before the Na- 
tionalist troops had occupied the town, a thousand brig- 
ands had swept down upon it from the plateau. They had 
looted certain sections of the city and demanded a ransom 
of $500,000 from the Kalgan Chamber of Commerce. 
They remained in possession for two days and left as the 
advance guard of the Nationalist soldiers appeared. 

We felt sure that Granger would have shifted opera- 
tions to Urtyn Obo, the great exposures which he had 
discovered, fourteen miles north of Spring Camp. There- 
fore we headed directly toward that spot. On the way I 
shot a gazelle at long range. It proved to be a female carry- 
ing young. While I was lamenting the feet, Dr. Perez 
jumped out of the car and performed a neat Czesarean 
operation. Lifting out the young antelope which was just 
ready for birth, he employed artificial respiration and 
soon had it breathing naturally. It would doubtless have 
lived had it been uninjured, but my bullet had shattered 
both hind legs. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon we saw the blue tents 
208 




a 
I 



I 



X 

w 



EASTWARD INTO A NEW LAND 



of our camp floating in a beautiful mirage. It was pitched 
on the rim of a great badland basin. We were very tired 
and very, very dirty. After tea Granger led me to a pro- 
jecting buttress behind the tent. We looked out over a 
wild chaos of ravines and canyons and gigantic chasms, 
yellow, red and gray. A huge obo built by the Mongols 
as an offering to the gods of this fantastic spot crowned a 
sentinel butte. Sunset shadows filled the mysterious chasms 
with soft purple masses. Pinnacles and spires stood in 
silhouette against the sky. Over this tumultuous land sea 
lay the exquisite calm of a desert evening. 

Quietly my old friend told me of the first week's finds. 
His steady blue eyes filled with the light of affection and 
happiness as he saw me thrill with excitement. 

"There," said he, pointing to the topmost layer of 
golden sands, "is where we find the bones of Baluchithe- 
rium. We do it with field glasses. It is a new kind of fossil 
hunting. I've never done it before. But it is the best way. 
We walk along the ridges and look across the ravines. See 
that white spot over there? That is a cervical vertebra I 
discovered today from this very spot. You will like this 
kind of prospecting. 

"Below the yellow sands/' Granger continued, "in 
that thick mass of red, there is nothing. So far we have 
found only a few bits of turtle shell in its whole extent. 
That gray-white stuff under the red is full of titanotheres. 
Every one of the boys is working on a skull and they are 
all good. The far layer of pink contains some fine things, 
and way out there in the bottom of the basin in those 
white sediments we seem to have a new fauna. Probably 
it is merely a facies of the upper gray, but anyway it is 

209 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



different. Thomson found an extraordinary rhinoceros 
there a little fellow. I've never seen anything like it." 

So the story went on; a story which set my heart to 
beating happily. After the long weeks of discouragement, 
the days and nights of pain and heat and utter exhaustion, 
at last the desert had paid its debt. I slept that night with 
a great load lifted from my spirit. 



21O 



CHAPTER XV 



Discovery of the Baluchitherium 

IN the morning I tried the new method of field-glass 
prospecting. It was fascinating. Walking out on the nar- 
row ridges between the ravines I could look across forty 
or fifty yards to the other side. 

The powerful glasses magnified the surface of the yel- 
low sands bringing out in stereoscopic relief every peb- 
ble. Success was immediate. In the bottom of the first 
chasm I saw the white fragments of a huge bone. Follow- 
ing it up with my eyes, I found the source. A mass of bone 
lay just under the canyon's rim. Ten minutes' walk 
brought me to the spot. Most of the fossil remains were 
useless; simply a jumbled heap of great fragments with- 
out form or character. Evidently a limb bone broken by 
the action of weather. But in the slope, projecting only 
a few inches, was the great metatarsal of a Baluchitherium 
nearly two feet long and as thick as my arm, 

From this point I could see the opposite side of the 
ravine. Just above the barren red layer a spot of white 
appeared. That was something smaller and obviously dif- 
ferent. It proved to be the broken jaw and teeth of an 
Entelodon, a giant pig that had teeth strangely like those 
of a carnivore. Building a little obo of stones I left it 
severely alone for Granger's attention. 

Two more ravines yielded nothing, but the third pro- 

211 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



duced half a pelvis of our Baluchitherium. And what a 
pelvis it was! Larger than a bass drum! I left that too, for 
it was badly broken. An hour later a great cervical ver- 
tebra beautifully preserved showed on the side of the yel- 
low cliff-face where it hung precariously balanced on a 
rotting ledge, A few more gales would have cut away its 
crumbling foundation and sent it crashing to the bottom 
of the canyon two hundred feet below. With difficulty I 
hobbled over on my wounded leg and dragged the huge 
bone back to a place of safety. It probably weighed fifty 
pounds. With the mass of muscle and tendons and the 
other six vertebrae, I could imagine what the neck alone 
without the head would weigh! Thus ended my morn- 
ing's hunt. Other mornings followed, usually filled with 
as great success. 

The night before two drunken lamas had called at 
camp to inform us that there were to be great festivities 
about the obo and that we must not work in the vicinity. 
I said little for the priests were too much under the influ- 
ence of Chinese wine to comprehend. But Granger and 
Thomson had a beautiful skull of a large titanothere 
(Embolotherium) partly excavated about a quarter of a 
mile from the 060. We had no intention of abandoning 
it and at six o'clock that evening they brought it safely 
into camp. It was an enormous specimen, thirty-seven 
inches long; with great nasal bones which projected at a 
sharp angle into the air. 

On Sunday, June 24, Young and Horvath started for 

the broken car guided by a map which Hill had prepared. 

The rest of us went into the badlands early. The slopes 

of the top formation are so abrupt that it seems unlikely 

212 



DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

that a skeleton of Baluchitherium would have been pre- 
served. The animals must have been extraordinarily 
abundant for broken fragments of the huge bones are 
scattered over the floors of most ravines. Hill, Perez and I 
discovered a fine cervical vertebra and the distal end of a 
humerus. I left Hill shortly before noon and a few mo- 
ments later he discovered the skull of a Baluchitherium 
lying palate uppermost just above the rim of a perpendic- 
ular wall. It was in bad condition and there was grave 
danger that it might slip off into the canyon for the mat- 
rix was of worn, yellow sand. Thomson did an exceed- 
ingly skillful job in bracing it up. The teeth and front of 
the skull were gone but the top and occipital parts were 
of great value. The next day Shackelford made an aston- 
ishing discovery. 

He came into the mess tent for tiffin and casually re- 
marked that he had found a "bone." Rather too casually, 
I thought. I was sure that the half had not been told. 
After suitable encouragement he admitted that it was a 
large bonea very large bone. Only the end of it was pro- 
jecting from a hill slope, but that end was as big as his 
body. There was a roar from the table at that, for Shack's 
body is far from thin. He is not exactly globular, but he 
certainly is fat. A bone as big as any part of his torso 
would be some bone. 

"Don't believe me then," quoth Shack, "but I'll show 
you." 

And show us he did. Walter Granger, Bill Thomson, 
Shack and I went there in a car, for the place was two 
miles from camp. It proved to be a gray slope which 
dropped off abruptly into a deep ravine. Ten feet down 

213 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the side lay a great white ball. Until I examined it I 
would not believe that it was bone, for it actually was as 
thick as Shackelford's body. A little brushing off o yellow 
sand showed it to be the head of a humerus, or upper arm 
bone* More brushing exposed its entire length and 
brought to light the end of another massive shaft which 
ran deep into the hillside. 

All of us stared in amazement. It was not easy to ruffle 
the calm of Granger and Thomson, They have been at it 
too many years and have dug up too many strange beasts. 
But they got a real jolt when they saw those bones. As for 
me, I was too impressed even to talk. 

We supposed that they represented the Baluchithe- 
rium, the colossal rhinoceros of which we had found a 
skull in 1922. That beast was bigger than the most gigan- 
tic mammoth. It was the largest mammal that ever walked 
upon the earth so far as science knew. Drs. Gregory and 
Granger estimate it to have stood seventeen feet nine 
inches at the shoulders and thirty-four feet in length from 
nose to tail. Still these figures mean little unless you can 
visualize them. Just pace off your room and estimate the 
height of the ceiling; then you will get some conception 
of the size of a full-grown Baluch. 

The upper arm bone which Shackelford had found 
was as thick as a man's body and four feet long. A man's 
humerus would look like an unimportant sliver beside 
it. And remember that it was the shortest bone in the 
beast's fore limb above the feet. The second giant shaft 
proved to be the radius. It was five feet long and so heavy 
that two of us could hardly lift it. In order thoroughly 



DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

to prospect the deposit, the side of the hill must be re- 
moved; it might reveal an entire skeleton. 

So at seven o'clock the next morning half the men of 
the Expedition were shoveling energetically at the coarse 
yellow sand. The bones were so hard and big that there 
was little risk of breakage; therefore Granger allowed me 
to work around them with a curved awl and a whisk 
broom. Usually I am banished from the immediate 
vicinity of an important specimen. I can find fossils right 
enough, but my impetuous nature is not suited to the 
delicate operation of removing them. I simply cannot 
work for hours or days, as the others do, before I even 
know what is there. My pickax methods do get quick re- 
sults, but they are a bit rough on the specimens, I must 
admit. In the language of the Expedition, when a fossil 
is broken beyond repair it has been given the "R.C.A." 

Working out a prospect is always fascinating; if it 
happens to be an unknown beast, it becomes a thrilling 
adventure. Lady Evelyn Carnarvon once told me of her 
feelings when she peeped for the first time into a cham- 
ber of Tut-ankh-amen's tomb. Hers were the first eyes 
that had looked into that room since it was walled up 
four thousand years ago. She could not have been more 
excited than I was as I brushed away the golden yellow 
sand that had inclosed our specimen for six million years. 
The tomb of the Egyptian king gave a glimpse of the 
world of men and their way of life when civilization had 
only just been born. Our glimpse was of an incredibly 
more ancient past, millions of years before man had come 
upon the earth. 

Before the massive radius lay bare for its entire length 

215 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Granger discovered another from the opposite side; also 
two enormous ribs. Just behind them, farther in the hill- 
side, my brush exposed a corner of a flat bone; then a 
huge tooth nearly as large as an apple came into view. 
That gave all of us a thrill, for a skull with teeth would 
have been the last desiderata. But it proved to be only a 
jaw, and the left side was gone. The doctor next un- 
covered the middle metatarsal of one foot. A human 
metatarsal is about four inches long; this one is nearly 
two feet in length and larger than a rolling pin. 

Then we paused to have a look at things. The shovel- 
ing squad had removed fifteen feet of hillside, leaving a 
flat bench where the bones lay exposed. They were all 
on the same level, close together, and the ends pointed in 
the same direction. It was obvious that the deposition 
had taken place in the bed of a swift stream flowing north. 
Cross-bedding of the yellow gravel and the position of 
the bones told the story. The animal had died in the 
stream, the flesh decomposed and the skeleton disartic- 
ulated. The smaller parts had been carried on by the 
water; doubtless many had been broken by pounding 
against rocks. The massive limb bones had been left where 
the beast died. They were too heavy even for a torrent 
to move more than a few feet. 

It was useless to dig farther into the hill, for we were 
rapidly getting out of the stream bed. Only excavations 
along the watercourse northward would yield results, but 
unfortunately a deep ravine had cut through it in that 
direction and the ancient bed was gone. We were dis- 
appointed not to have found a skull, but the jaw was 
some compensation. 



DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

The Baluchitherium was just about as big as a land 
animal could grow. Nature has put a very definite check 
upon size. If an animal grows too large it cannot move 
about readily enough to obtain sufficient food. Neither 
can it adapt itself to any radical change of conditions, such 
as climate, which affects food supply. The inevitable re- 
sult is the extinction of the species. Baluch browsed on 
leaves from the branches of trees. When conditions 
changed and the forests began to disappear he and all his 
large relatives died, because they could not get enough to 
eat. He never got to America, for he was much to big to 
make a long journey. Neither did he reach Europe. 
Central Asia and Northern India appear to have been 
his playgrounds. 

Shackelford was immensely pleased with himself and 
his great bones. He had good reason to be too. One does 
not discover the world's biggest mammal every Tuesday 
and Thursday! After such an event one has the satisfied 
feeling that he has not lived in vain. But we did not let 
him enjoy his peculiar distinction for very long. Heavy 
competition began at once. Captain Hill found a huge 
skull that represented the same species. Then Shack 
matched it with another not quite so good. The doctor 
hunted early and late and produced an assortment of 
valuable bones of our titanic beast. I trailed along with 
three or four vertebras and parts of feet. Altogether they 
give us a pretty respectable representation of the skeleton. 
Of course most of them came from different individuals, 
but for scientific study and description that is not an 
insuperable difficulty. A paper restoration has been made 

217 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



at The American Museum of Natural History by Drs. 
Gregory and Granger. 

The marvelous badlands which lay just below our 
camp produced other new beasts. One of them while not 
as big as the Mongolian colossus was even more extraor- 
dinary in appearance. It belonged to a group of mammals 
known as titanotheres, which superficially resembled 
rhinoceroses, but had no direct relation to them. They 
became extinct many millions of years ago and are not 
represented among modern mammals. Until we went to 
Mongolia it was supposed that America had a corner on 
the titanothere market. 

None had been discovered elsewhere, with the pos- 
sible exception of a doubtful fragment from Austria. But 
Professor Osborn had been studying titanotheres for 
twenty years and he was certain that they did not origi- 
nate in America. He believed that they must have come 
to us out of Asia. 

One of the last things Osborn said to me when I left 
New York in 1921 was: "Look out for titanotheres. You 
surely ought to find them in Central Asia." And find 
them we did, just four days after reaching Mongolia. The 
first ones discovered were so close to some of the Ameri- 
can species that they could hardly be distinguished. It was 
a remarkable demonstration of Professor Osborn 's scien- 
tific reasoning. 

Since that time we have found a dozen remarkable 
species of titanotheres. But the most extraordinary and 
grotesque of all was the one discovered just below Baluch 
Camp. It was named Embolothere andrewsi (Andrews' 
battering ram beast). The creature was much larger than 



DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

the largest living rhinoceros. Its skull is concave and 
shaped like a Western stock saddle, the occipital ridge 
corresponding to the cantle and the nasal bones to the 
pommel. The fused nasals project straight up at right 
angles to the skull and swell into great bulbous ends. He 
carried his nose in the air if ever an animal did. 

Nature seldom does a thing without good reason and 
probably a vertical nose served some useful purpose to 
the beast in the beginning of its development. But in this 
case evolution seems to have run away with itself, as it 
sometimes does; it got started and could not stop. The 
enormous antlers of the extinct Irish elk are an example, 
as, indeed, are those of our American moose. Although 
at first moderate-sized antlers were useful to a moose, 
certainly in the living species the development has long 
since passed utilitarian limits; now they are a distinct 
disadvantage in size, weight and in the strength it requires 
to renew them annually. 

I suspect that our new titanothere was a browser and 
fed on leaves from bushes and low trees. In that case he 
must have had a short thick trunk or pendulous upper 
lip to bring the front of his face into working position. 
This beast represents an entirely new phylum or branch 
of the titanotheres. It is doubtful if they ever reached 
Europe or America, as nothing even remotely resembling 
them has been found there. We have seven of the huge 
saddle-shaped skulls, as well as many other bones of the 
skeleton. 

The chaos of ravines and canyons below the camp 
seemed to be full of important specimens. It took only 
an hour or two of prospecting to find something new. 

219 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



It was easy because our men knew their jobs. Yet fossil 
hunting seems to be rather a mysterious business to the 
uninitiated. I am asked at least a thousand times a year, 
"How do you know where to look?" We are regarded as 
having some magic power to be able to go into a new 
country and find bones that have been buried for millions 
of years. But I can assure you that there is nothing occult 
about it. Walter Granger is one of the best fossil hunters 
in the world and he is not a bit occult. I have lived with 
him in the same tent for many years and I ought to know. 
He is a tall Vermonter with blue eyes, brown hair, an 
infectious smile, and is the best-natured man I know. His 
fossil-hunting equipment consists of a profound knowl- 
edge of prehistoric mammals and geology, of keen eyes, 
unlimited patience and long experience. His success is 
due to his natural gifts plus careful training. Albert 
Thomson is another man very much like him. Personally 
I am a rotten fossil hunter; my temperament is all wrong. 
But it is great fun to mess about when I have the time and 
sometimes hit upon a good thing. I have tried almost 
every kind of sport and nothing gives me a greater thrill 
than developing a new fossil. 

Where to look is simply a matter of scientific knowl- 
edge. Fossils can be found only in sedimentary deposits, 
such as a sandstone, limestone, clay and slate. Of course 
bones could not be preserved in igneous or volcanic rocks, 
such as granite. Therefore we travel over the country 
until we find sedimentary strata. That is the first requisite. 
Next, the deposit must be cut by erosion into escarp- 
ments, ravines, gullies or canyons. Thus a cross section 
of the strata is exposed, and if bones are lying far below 
220 




RESTORATION OF Baluchilhenum 
Painted by Charles R. Knight 




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w 



r< 

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DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

the surface, ends or bits are likely to show. It becomes, 
then, merely a matter of trained eyes to find them. Some- 
times only the tiniest fragment will give the clew to an 
entire skeleton; but always there must be some such in- 
dication of the presence of bone. It would be quite hope- 
less to dig just anywhere. It is an axiom in palaeontology: 
"Never dig for bones unless you see them." 

Not all sedimentary strata contain fossils. Often there 
are great areas of beautiful badlands which are absolutely 
barren. In the very top layer of yellow sand at our camp 
we found many bones of the Mongolian colossus. Below 
it lay sixty feet of brick-red sediment; lower still was a 
gray-white stratum, then more red, and at the very bot- 
tom another layer of gray claylike sand. In the two red 
deposits hardly a trace of fossils existed, but the gray 
layers were rich. It simply means that when the red sedi- 
ments were being deposited, there was a period of con- 
siderable aridity, and conditions were not favorable for 
the preservation of bones. Sometimes the sediment in 
which fossils are found have been consolidated into hard 
rock, such as sandstone or limestone. Consolidation de- 
pends upon pressure, moisture and chemical factors. 
Sometimes even very old sediments have not been con- 
solidated into rock and still remain as rather loose sand 
which can easily be dug or brushed away. We found one 
beautiful skeleton of a small dinosaur in a ledge of 
hematite; the bones themselves had become completely 
impregnated with iron and resisted our strongest tools. 
On the contrary, a nest of dinosaur eggs, which are eighty 
or ninety million years old, could be brushed out of sand 

221 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



that was almost as loose as on the day when it was de- 
posited. 

I have described only two discoveries because those 
two new beasts were so strange and so huge that they gave 
pause even to our most hardened fossil collectors. But do 
not believe for a moment that those were the only speci- 
mens which this rock deposit contained. Far from it. 
Every day some one came in with a new discovery which 
was less spectacular but hardly less important than the 
big fellows. Several remarkable types of rhinoceros came 
to light. One possessed a skull that at first sight resembles 
an enormous weasel. It is quite new to science. Then 
there are new carnivores, small hoofed animals and ro- 
dents. But the life of that far-distant age was dominated 
by the huge mammals which I have described. 

The thing which surprises us most is that we have not 
discovered the ancestor of all the horses; I mean the five- 
toed fellow. Four-toed horses have been found in the 
Eocene of Europe and America, and there is a pretty com- 
plete evolutionary series from that dawn period right up 
to the living horse. But it is certain that a five-toed an- 
cestor existed, and we believe equally certain that Asia 
was where he was born. We confidently expected to find 
him in Mongolia. There are half a dozen good reasons 
why he should be there. Yet we have discovered just about 
everything else and not one trace of horses in the ancient 
formations. It is not until near the end of the Age of 
Mammals, the Pliocene, that horses suddenly appear. 
Where were they if not in Mongolia? The only answer 
appears to be that their evolution took place farther to 
the north and that somewhere in southern Siberia their 
222 



DISCOVERY OF THE BALUCHITHERIUM 

remains will be found. That ancient continent, known 
as Angara, will doubtless yield most important results, 
once it is investigated palaeontologically. It is quite pos- 
sible that it will give us man's ancestors as well as those of 
the horse. It is logically the next place for us to explore. 
I would love to do it if we could. But unfortunately 
politics and palaeontology do not seem to get on well 
together. Hunting fossils, which involves geological 
studies and messing about in the earth, is too easily con- 
fused with oil and mineral research by suspicious and 
ignorant politicians. 



223 



CHAPTER XVI 



End of the 1928 Expedition 

WE had a good deal to talk about in camp besides fossils 
and science. The radio furnished some of the conversa- 
tion. As a rule I am not a believer in radio for an expedi- 
tion such as ours. I find that the entire personnel is 
happier, more contented and works better if there is 
absolutely no news from the outside world. 

Most of the men have wives and families. We leave 
them in good care, confident that all will be well. But 
suppose that a man gets word, when we are a thousand 
miles out in the desert, that his wife or children are dan- 
gerously ill! It is impossible to return or, if he could, not 
for weeks or months. Anxiety would ruin his work. Better 
that he knew nothing, since he could be of no assistance. 

But 1928 was somewhat different, since political con- 
ditions in China were extremely uncertain; moreover, we 
needed the correct time for longitude observations. Our 
set was for receiving only. I arranged with the American 
Legation in Peking to send us any really important news 
and with the U. S. Navy to transmit time signals on a 
short wave from Cavite, Philippine Islands, each night. 

The Mongols, of course, thought it a miracle when we 

let them listen with the head phones to broadcasting from 

the theaters of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in Siberia. 

It seemed like a miracle to me, too, out there in the desert 

224 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



where one has time really to think. We could even hear 
the sound of feet on the platform and the talking of the 
audience between acts. It thrilled me always when the 
time signals came in, for that was something direct and 
personal. I know the naval station in Cavite. The moon 
shining across the waters of Manila Bay on palm trees 
and flowers; the stifling heat; the operator dressed in 
white at his keyboard. At ten minutes to ten: 

"Here goes for those fellows up in the Gobi Desert." 

Out into the night he sent the warning dots and dashes 
followed by the signal at precisely ten o'clock. I wondered 
if he ever tried to picture us as we received his message: 
The long semi-circle of blue tents; the restless mass of 
kneeling camels; the grim reaches of the soundless desert. 
All under the same moon that looked down upon him in 
his tropic garden. 

At Baluch Camp the Expedition had begun to re- 
semble a traveling zoo, for it swarmed with young birds 
and animals. Shackelford rejoiced in the possession of two 
baby horned owls, which we had taken from a nest in a 
beautiful canyon south of camp. Horvath had a pair of 
ravens; Doctor Perez a beautiful falcon and a kite; 
Granger two golden eagles; Mac Young a gazelle, and 
Buckshot a hedgehog. I was the fond possessor of a young 
duck caught by Doctor Perez. There was also a Mongol 
puppy and my police dog Wolf. 

All these birds and animals assumed a really important 
place in the Expedition. Out of touch with the rest of the 
world for months, as we are, anything that will give a 
new interest, which will take our minds off our work and 
each other, is valuable. It assists in keeping up the morale 

225 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



of the whole party. That is the reason why I am willing to 
sacrifice space and weight to our Victrola. It is a mental 
relaxation and a thing which helps to keep our sense of 
proportion. More than once, I have seen a man who was 
irritable put in good humor again by listening to a record 
of the "Two Black Crows" or watching the antics of one 
of our pets. Such things are wonderful stabilizers. 

Shortly before we left Baluch Camp, Shackelford 
made another discovery. He was continually poking about 
in odd places where no one else had prospected. During 
one of his rambles a few fragments of bone in the bottom 
of a shallow ravine caught his attention. Following up 
the line of the wash he saw other pieces embedded in the 
earth. Excavations revealed a pelvis with the hind limb in 
place of what is doubtless our gigantic Baluch. The bones 
were in the side of a small ridge formed by two diverging 
gullies. On the opposite slope parts of the animal's fore 
limbs were exposed. The great beast had died lying on its 
right side. As the bones are in their proper relative posi- 
tions it is highly probable that the entire skeleton is there. 

Unfortunately the surrounding matrix is of tough 
rubberlike clay. It can only be picked off bit by bit, and 
the bone itself is so soft that it must be continually hard- 
ened with shellac. It would require weeks of time and 
great quantities of material to remove this colossal skele- 
ton. We had neither. There was nothing for it but to re- 
cover the bones with earth and obliterate all traces. They 
will remain in safety until we can return properly 
equipped with special materials. 

Although the badlands at Baluch Camp continued to 
yield -new specimens every day, I was anxious to be away. 
226 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



The other members of the Expedition had finished their 
work. Only the palaeontologists were busy. That year 
we were equipped to explore new country; the next sea- 
son would be devoted to intensive work. Our next camp 
was on a beautiful red mesa. To reach it we crossed a 
great basin. In the middle was a fossil forest. Tree trunks, 
branches, stumps and slabs of wood lay scattered as they 
had fallen there millions of years ago. It was doubtless on 
the leaves of these same trees that our new titanothere, he 
of the uplifted nose, had browsed. 

The mesa was approachable with cars only at one 
point. Geologically of the same formation as the one we 
had left, we supposed it would contain similar fossil mam- 
mals. In proof we found an obo at the base constructed 
chiefly from bones of our Baluchitherium. A huge obo 
surmounted a detached pinnacle at the southeast end of 
the mesa and a whole family of baby obos reposed below 
it. Therefore we assumed that there would be objections 
from the lamas if we remained there long. 

The Mongols have no religious superstitions concern- 
ing fossil bones (at least we have encountered none) but 
they do dislike to have the ground disturbed in the region 
of their obos. Apparently they believe that spirits dwell 
therein. Of course we respect their wishes. Still it is noth- 
ing short of miraculous how tractable the spirits become, 
if a few dollars slip into the lamas' hands. This particular 
mesa was deserted. Beautiful camel feed flourished and 
died uneaten on the tablelike top. There was not a sign 
of human life or of winter camp sites. The priestly visita- 
tions began with scouting parties on the lower plain. 
Then a lone lama visited us and was received with cour- 

227 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



tesy. Next, ten dirty blear-eyed priests arrived. The mesa, 
they said, was holy ground, extremely holy; so holy, in 
fact, that they did not even pasture camels there. I have 
forgotten just how much was required to pacify the 
spirits; I think it was a dollar for each lama. 

The Holy Mesa produced several vertebrae of our 
new colossus, larger than any in our collection; also the 
hind limbs and feet of a smaller individual. The jaw and 
teeth of a gigantic new rhinoceros and a dozen smaller 
things were added in quick succession. 

But the lamas seemed not to have entirely appeased 
the spirits of the Holy Mesa. The hottest weather I have 
ever known in the Gobi held us for two weeks. During the 
day the thermometer hung at -J- 110 F in the tent; in 
the sun it reached +145 F. The change between night 
and sun temperature was seldom less than 70 F. A deluge 
ended the great heat, but it had worked havoc with our 
gasoline. All the gas had been packed in special tins and 
cases, but the enormous temperature changes had been 
too much for them. Tin after tin burst along the solder 
lines. Nearly a thousand gallons of our precious gasoline 
disappeared into the air. It meant that our running capac- 
ity was reduced just that number of miles because the 
fleet of eight cars used a gallon to a mile. We have not 
yet solved the problem of how to transport gasoline on 
camels. Steel drums would not leak, but there are half a 
dozen reasons which make their use impracticable for 
our work. 

From the Holy Mesa a drive of a hundred miles 
brought us to Iren Dabasu, or Erhlien, a salt lake where 
we had found the first strata of the Age of Reptiles, in 
2S>8 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



1922. Work there the following year had given us a superb 
collection of dinosaurs: the duck-billed Iguanodon type 
of Europe, carnivorous dinosaurs, and a little upland fel- 
low that could run on his hind legs like an ostrich. It was 
here that we had had the first confirmation of the theory 
that Asia was the mother of the life of Europe and Amer- 
ica. Early in the spring of 1923 we had found some pecul- 
iar egg-shells at Iren Dabasu. At that time we did not 
connect them with dinosaurs. Later the same year, after 
the now-famous dinosaur eggs had been discovered, we 
began to think about those shells. Eventually they were 
submitted to Prof. Victor Van Straelen of Brussels, a 
noted authority on the micro-structure of eggshells. He 
pronounced them to be undoubtedly dinosaurian. More- 
over, they were of quite a different type from those found 
at the Flaming Cliffs. Thus we had located the second 
place in the world yielding dinosaur eggs. 

Since 1923 we had been unable to return to Iren 
Dabasu. In 1928 we went there egg hunting. On a low 
gray ridge fragments of shell were immediately discov- 
ered, and Granger decided to do a bit of excavating. 
Hardly two feet under the surface he found several nests 
close together. Evidently the hen dinosaurs regarded this 
porous sediment as particularly suitable for egg hatching. 
They were the duck-billed iguanodonts, which sat upon 
their hind legs and used the short, weak fore limbs only 
in feeding. Imagine this sand bank fifteen or twenty mil- 
lions of years ago crowded with dinosaurs. Each one 
scooped out a shallow hole in which to deposit its eggs. 
These were nearly round, hard-shelled and probably 
white, fifteen to twenty-five in number, arranged in a 

829 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



circle with ends pointing inward and in two or three 
layers. After the mother dinosaur had covered them 
lightly with sand she left them to be hatched by the sun's 
warmth. But doubtless each one kept a watchful eye upon 
her nest. 

That sand bank must have been as popular as a bath- 
ing beach in summer. Only a short distance away was a 
lake margined with lush vegetation. The region literally 
swarmed with dinosaurs. Although we have found the 
remains of hundreds of individuals, think how compara- 
tively few of the actual number would be preserved as 
fossils; still more, what an infinitely small proportion of 
those preserved will ever be discovered. 

These new eggs differ considerably in shape from 
those of the Flaming Cliffs. They are much less elongated 
and somewhat resemble very large crocodile eggs. The 
entire hillside seemed to be full of shell, but we dis- 
covered only five nests containing even fairly presentable 
eggs. Certainly further excavations would yield many 
others. 

Our appetite for eggs was satisfied in two days and we 
proceeded east of Iren Dabasu. We know of only one 
man, Campbell, who has crossed that region and left any 
written account. A month earlier, on reconnaissance, 
when our car had broken, we had had a look at some of 
it and located several fossil deposits. One of them was a 
gray escarpment bordering a vast flat basin. We found 
the intervening country to be typical of the Gobi hard 
gravel plains, sage-covered depressions, gently swelling 
hills. The escarpment itself offered a wonderful view. It 
230 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



was like being on the deck of a ship and looking out upon 
a tranquil yellow-green sea. 

The actual surface of the bluff on which we were 
camped was the fossil-bearing layer. Moreover, by little 
else than luck we had stopped at the richest spot in the 
formation. The first discovery was a mastodon skeleton. 
The beast seemed to have died all over the place. His 
skull was found near camp; twenty feet away was the 
lower jaw; a few yards on either side, fore and hind limb 
bones; also several ribs in another pile. Evidently some 
carnivorous animals had dragged the great carcass about 
before the flesh was gone. We named the place Mastodon 
Camp. 

In the same stratum there were great quantities of 
clam-shells; layer upon layer of them. It did not take our 
scientists long to realize that we were on the edge of what 
had been a vast fresh-water lake. The limits were easily 
definable; also, that the exposure was much younger 
than any we had found that year. It belonged to the 
Pliocene. All of which wa's exceedingly important. Every- 
thing we found there would be new and would throw 
a brilliant light upon what had been the darkest period 
of Mongolian life history. Moreover, it was just the geo- 
logical age in which we might look for early human 
types with greatest hope of success. 

As the mastodon skeleton was freed from rock it de- 
veloped that it was a very young individual, almost a baby, 
but a most extraordinary specimen. The skulls of almost 
all the Proboscidea mastodons, mammoths and the living 
elephants are extremely short and wide. This one had 
an elongated narrow rostrum. Embedded in it on either 

231 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



side were two slender tusks. Except for the teeth and the 
tusks one never would have guessed that it was a mas- 
todon. 

A few days after the find Captain Hill brought in two 
flat plates, each about eight inches wide by nine inches 
long but only half an inch thick. Enamel and dentine 
showed them unquestionably to be teeth. But what sort 
of teeth, how they functioned, and what animal wore 
them was a mystery. We were completely defeated. Later 
several more were found; also an enormous shoulder 
blade. Evidently some extraordinary creature, unlike any 
with which we were acquainted, had lived here during 
Pliocene times. Every day Granger and I would look at 
those teeth and try to imagine to what they belonged. 
We did not learn until two weeks later. Then, in an- 
other deposit of the same formation thirty miles away, a 
pure accident gave the explanation. The last evening 
before breaking camp, Granger was walking back to din- 
ner. He climbed up the escarpment to the plain on 
which the tents were pitched. Two feet below the edge 
he stepped on a fragment of bone. There was more scat- 
tered about and a large piece firmly embedded. After a 
little excavation he realized that he had solved the mys- 
tery of the flat teeth and returned to camp to get me. 
What he had discovered proved to be the lower jaw of a 
mastodon similar to the young one found at Mastodon 
Camp but much larger. The spatulate front of the jaw 
can only be described as resembling a great coal shovel. 
Side by side horizontally in the end were two flat teeth 
like the others we had found. They were eighteen inches 
across. Behind them the jaw narrows and then divides 
232 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 

into the two branches which bear the molar teeth. The 
jaw is more than five feet longa perfectly stupendous 
organ. 

It exactly resembles a scoop shovel and I believe that 
a scoop shovel it must have been. The fact that we found 
many mastodon remains on the very shores of the great 
inland lake gave a clew. Quite probably there was much 
lush vegetation there. Our mastodon must have waded 
along the edges scooping up the water plants with his 
great shovel. By means of a trunk or tongue he pushed 
them into the back part of his mouth to be masticated 
by his molar teeth. Without doubt the huge shoulder 
blade that we found at Mastodon Camp belonged to one 
of the full-grown mastodons. Our first skeleton was that 
of a very young individual. The flat teeth had fallen 
out of its lower jaw, for they were rather loosely set in; so 
we did not recognize the affinity to the plates which we 
had been finding. 

At Mastodon Camp one of the Chinese collectors dis- 
covered the almost complete skeleton of a rhinoceros. 
It was about the size of one of our living rhinos and lay 
in what had been a stream bed. When the bones were 
exposed it resembled the skeleton of a horse or a cow as 
one sees them so frequently on the desert; so much so 
that I could hardly realize that it had been buried for 
millions of years. 

During the stay at Mastodon Camp, Captain Hill, 
Mac Young and I had gone to a mission station one hun- 
dred and forty miles from Kalgan to leave six fossil cases 
too large to be carried by camels. Our route was through 
new country, which we mapped and explored. At the 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



mission we heard of Chang Tso-lin's death by a bomb, 
and other important news. The entire political situation 
had changed about as completely as possible since we 
left in April 

During our absence from Mastodon Camp the camels 
arrived. The gasoline situation had become so serious 
through leakage that it was evident our work would have 
to end soon. I determined to concentrate on exploring 
the new country about us and carry all the remaining 
gas in the cars. The camels were started for Hatt-in-Sumu. 
The next three weeks were of great importance geo- 
graphically. Still they did not present features of unusual 
popular interest. A general survey of the country and 
mapping were our chief occupations. We located a great 
area of dead sand dunes which extends north and south 
for many hundreds of miles; found a dozen small lakes 
and new geological strata; also a great residence site of 
the Dune Dwellers. 

By the time our gasoline was at an end we had com- 
pleted our exploration program. Our fossil collection 
numbered ninety cases; we had ten thousand arch<eologi- 
cal specimens; the geologist had discovered half a dozen 
new formations and had studied a vast untouched area; 
the topographer had mapped three thousand miles of 
blank space on Mongolia's map. We were well content. 
The^ American Legation, at my request, had notified 
the officials along our return route. Thus we encountered 
none of the expected difficulties. But our entry into Kal- 
gan very nearly resulted in a tragedy. We arrived in black 
night and heavy rain. Four miles outside the city the 
steep clay hills were like grease. Our cars could make no 
234 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



progress. While roping a wheel, Horvath, one of our 
motor experts, drove a knife into his thigh, severing an 
artery. The blood pumped out in great jets. He would 
have died in a few minutes had the surgeon's car not been 
near his own. To manufacture a tourniquet in the mud 
and darkness was difficult, but Doctor Perez finally 
stopped the bleeding. Horvath was soaked with blood 
and very weak when we reached Kalgan but a few days 
put him right again. 

When Chang Tso-lin left North China he took with 
him all the cars and locomotives that he could find. As 
a result, Kalgan was connected with Peking by a train 
that ran sometimes once a day, sometimes once a week. 
It was useless to think of getting our motors and equip- 
ment to Peking by rail. Either they must remain in Kal- 
gan indefinitely or we must drive them down. We chose 
the latter course. Driving one hundred and twenty-four 
miles does not seem on the face of it to be a very serious 
undertaking. But to drive that distance over a road that 
was virtually a swamp and through a mountain pass 
where the trail was only designed for mules and camels 
is what we had to do. Moreover, our cars were loaded 
heavily. 

It was three days before we reached Peking three 
d^ys of fighting the road from daylight until after dark. 
At six o'clock of the first evening the trail had led us 
into a wide dry river bed. Suddenly we heard a roar from 
the hills to the right and saw a brown flood sweeping out 
from a narrow valley. In a few minutes a wild torrent 
waist-deep was across our path. To get out while the get- 
ting was good was obviously the thing to do. Just before 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



we reached the bank from which we had come there was 
the same ominous roar, and again we were cut off from 
safety by a wall of water. It looked distinctly bad. We 
drove to the highest part of the river bed and watched 
the water slowly rise toward us. Finally I could stand it 
no longer and we made a desperate attempt to reach the 
shore. The first car dropped into a hole, breaking an axle. 
The next car got through. The third hopelessly sank in 
the mud. We worked feverishly all night and before day- 
light got all but two of the cars across. Then the water 
began to recede rapidly. Had we remained where we were 
we should have been all right; but one never knows. 

The Nankou Pass, where the Great Wall was built 
to keep the Mongol raiders out of Peking, very nearly 
kept us out also. The road was such a nightmare of rocks 
and boulders that I shudder even now to write about it. 
At any moment I expected to see some of the cars crash. 
How anything on wheels designed to travel on a road 
could stand the punishment those Dodge cars received 
was beyond my conception. But they kept steadily on and 
at long last we came out on the road at the foot of the 
pass. Peking was only thirty miles away. We passed 
through the great gate of the Tartar wall at eight o'clock. 
The Expedition of 1928 was ended. 

Almost immediately trouble began with an unofficial 
body of Chinese called the "Cultural Society/' Later this 
became what is now the "Commission for the Preserva- 
tion of Ancient Objects/' 

Our specimens were confiscated by the Cultural Soci- 
ety on the grounds that the Expedition had "trespassed 
upon China's sovereign rights"; that we had "stolen 
236 



END OF THE 1928 EXPEDITION 



China's priceless treasures"; that we "were spies against 
the Chinese Government"; that we had been "searching 
for oil and minerals." 

This, in spite of the fact that since 1921 the Expedi- 
tion had been carrying on its work in cooperation with 
several Chinese scientific bodies; and that the results of 
its work had been spread on the pages of almost every 
newspaper of the world! 

Eventually our specimens were released but bitter 
feeling was engendered on both sides. Negotiations ex- 
tended to Colonel Stimson, Secretary of State of the 
U. S. A., the Chinese Minister at Washington and the 
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the New Nationalist Gov- 
ernment at Nanking. I shall not give details of the 
wrangle for it is best forgotten. In the last analysis anti- 
foreignism underlay all. the trouble; that, accompanied 
by the increasing nationalistic spirit throughout China. 
Any agitation of whatever character that was directed 
against foreigners found immediate popularity with the 
masses. 

It is probable that if the same situation arose today 
the Chinese would realize that the wisest course is to 
conform to long-standing international precedents in sci- 
entific work. 

The entire year of 1929 was devoted to costly and 
nerve-wracking diplomatic negotiations and it was not 
until 1930 that the Expedition was again able to take the 
field. 



237 



CHAPTER XVII 



The Mysterious Lake 

REPORTS of a mysterious lake continually came to us 
when the Central Asiatic Expedition was in Mongolia 
during 1928. Natives said that its shores were covered 
with fossil bones; that it was far out in the dead sand 
dunes to the east, in a region so desolate that few Mongols 
had ever been there. The name was Tukhum Nor. 

Native information is proverbially inaccurate, but 
we heard the tale so often that we decided to investigate. 
We sent out a Mongol who knew something about fossil 
bones, with instructions to find the lake and bring us 
specimens. He went on a pony, but lost himself in the 
trackless dunes. After wandering with little water and 
less food, he reached a Mongol yurt. He had had more 
than enough for that year. The next summer we started 
him off again on a camel, and that time he found the lake. 

"There are many dragon bones," he reported. "Oh, 
a great many. The shores are covered with them. But it 
is a bad country. All yellow sand and no wells/' To con- 
firm his statements, he produced a bag of specimens. We 
identified giraffe, horse, rhinoceros and other species in- 
dicating a Pliocene formation-that is the geological 
period just preceding the Pleistocene, or Ice Age. Such 
strata were more interesting to us than any other, because 
in them we might hope to find the bones of primitive 
238 




RESTORATION OF SHOVEL-TUSKED MASTODON BY MARGRET FLINSCH 




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THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



humans. "Hope," I say, for we never "expect" to find 
primate remains. It is too big a gamble for confidence. 
All we can do is to work and hope. 

I organized the 1930 Expedition with the region of 
this lake in view. In the heavy sand we would have to 
travel by camel, and we took only four cars. We were 
all set for a howling desert dozens of water bags, huge 
wooden casks and all our gear arranged for caravan 
transport. 

This I did during the winter in Peking. That was 
the easy part of it. The diplomatic negotiations were an 
entirely different matter, as I have already related. Then, 
when the diplomatic details were arranged, several Chi- 
nese generals in the north revolted against several Chi- 
nese generals in the south. That threw another wrench 
into the Expedition's machinery. Having spent the entire 
winter trying to satisfy one party, it had to be done all 
over again with the new regime which controlled the 
north. 

Even when I cabled Granger, Young and Thomson 
to leave New York for China by the first ship, I was by 
no means certain that we could go. It was then early April 
and the Expedition ought already to have started for the 
Gobi. By the time the men reached Peking, in May, I 
had promises of all the permits. Having obtained them 
from both sides, we felt reasonably safe. 

But there was still another little matter to be adjusted. 
Getting the equipment and cars away from Peking and 
into and out of Kalgan, our starting point, put a perma- 
nent crimp in the Expedition's finances. Eight tax offices 
in Kalgan alone took their toll By the time they had 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



finished with us I felt like a margin speculator after the 
stock market crash. Still, some one has to pay for the 
fun the Chinese generals have in making war upon one 
another. And I don't mind stating that the Central Ex- 
pedition did its share. They ought to be able to conduct 
several wars on what we had to contribute to the tax 
officials that year. 

We left Peking on May twenty-sixth. The camels, 
food and equipment awaited us at Hatt-in-Sumu, on the 
great plateau, one hundred and forty miles north of Kal- 
gan. The camels were a majestic-looking lot. That is 
about the only word of praise as to his personal appear- 
ance that can be applied to a camel. He is majestic, but 
handsome he is not. He was made up of spare parts when 
the Creator had used everything else for regular animals. 
Camels don't like white men. Apparently our body 
odor is extremely distasteful to them, and they evince 
the fact by spitting upon every visitor. To be spat upon 
by a camel is a joke only to the onlookers. The spittee 
feels very differently about it. Fortunately you can see it 
coming in time to run if you know the symptoms. When 
a suspicious distention appears at the base of the long 
throat and begins to travel upward, a camel-wise man 
leaves the vicinity at once. We veterans of the Expedition 
take a malicious delight in having new members initiated. 
Doctor Garber, our surgeon, got it first that year. In the 
performance of his duties he had to inspect the noses of 
several camels. One of them gave him such a bath of 
partly digested vegetation that he was washing himself 
for the best part of a day and even then couldn't get rid 
of the smell. 

.240 



THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



Our Mongol guide awaited us at Hatt-in-Sumu. He 
had reached the fossil-bearing lake from the south 
through the heavy sand, but had returned by a better 
route to the north. He believed that there the sand was 
hard enough to bear a motor. We might get within 
twenty-five or thirty miles of the lake, he thought. I de- 
cided to make a reconnaissance with two light cars before 
we went in with the whole Expedition. Five of us started 
out the next day. At first we traveled over beautiful roll- 
ing grasslands dotted with herds of gazelles and flocks of 
demoiselle cranes doing their mating dance. Some Mon- 
gols and flocks of sheep, but surprisingly few. Country 
just like our West of a hundred years ago, minus only 
the buffalo. No fences, of course. I never have seen a 
fence of any kind in all Mongolia. 

Car trouble stopped us for an hour, and we saw a wolf 
kill a sheep. The wolf dashed out from the ravine, sepa- 
rated two sheep and tore open the throat of one while 
the other stupidly stared at its dying companion. The 
herder ran into view and the wolf snatched a few hasty 
mouthfuls before it retired. The carcass was left on the 
hill slope. Mongols are superstitious about sheep killed 
by wolves. Only the poorest natives will eat one. It is 
bad luck. 

After a few miles, the grasslands ended and sand be- 
gan. The Mongol was right when he said that it was a 
desolate country. Utterly God-forsaken, we called it. Just 
sand sand basins, yellow dunes, and plains. It was very 
hard going. Most of the way we had to push the cars on 
strips of canvas stretched in front of each wheel. The 
monotony of it was as bad as the work. Just push to the 

241 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



end of the canvas, spread it out and push again, hour 
after hour. The first twenty miles were the worst. After 
that we seemed not to mind so much. Perhaps we were 
too exhausted. 

Eventually we reached the lake. During all the hard 
work we had comforted ourselves with visions of blue 
water margined by green grass; of breeding water fowl 
and whispering poplar trees. Reality: A shallow depres- 
sion of sun-baked mud stained with alkali, surrounded 
by a waste of dunes and niggerheads bathed in streaming 
heat waves. To complete the picture, a lone sheldrake 
sitting disconsolately in the exact center of the basin. 

Our Mongol could hardly believe his eyes. He had 
seen it just after unusually hard rains in the summer, 
when the depression was full to overflowing. But that is 
like most desert lakes. Here today and gone tomorrow. 
One of the western Gobi dried up while our topographer 
was mapping it! 

The Mongol pointed to the south side of the basin, 
where he had found his fossils. An area of irregular gray 
hillocks marked the deposit. We plodded across the lake 
bed, walking on hot, sun-cracked mud and resembling 
blocks of broken ice in an Arctic sea. Our guide tri- 
umphantly indicated bits of scattered bone. He seemed 
awfully pleased with himself about something. I asked 
him why the smiles. 

"Here are the lung-gu dragon bones/' he gurgled. 
"Many bones, many bones." 

My sainted aunt! So this was what we had pushed 
our way through miles of sand to see! A dry lake of stink- 
ing alkali mud, and fossils enough to fill a gasoline box- 
24.2 



THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



no more! The few bones there were had been crushed 
and broken into fragments before they were deposited 
some millions of years ago. The stuff was valueless except 
to determine the age of the formation. 

As we inspected the exposure, all of us wondered 
where the Mongol could have found the teeth and bones 
which had enticed us there. He explained that it was only 
after long search that he made his collection; moreover, 
that he had taken all the good things. We admitted that; 
there certainly wasn't much left. 

After a little, we began to see the humor of it all. It 
was just another experience with native information. We 
had had plenty before, and might have known better. 
Still, the things he had brought back were distinctly 
good, and there was comfort in having that alibi. It was 
disappointing extremely so but that was about all. Had 
the entire Expedition wasted several weeks by going there 
on camels, we could not have laughed so heartily. As it 
was, we would push ourselves out of the sand and begin 
again. 

Returning to Hatt-in-Sumu, I started the camels 
northward into a region we had roughly explored in 
1928. Soon after, we followed. Five of the men had to 
go with the caravan. Fourteen rode on the cars. The 
motors looked like giant spiders, for the legs and arms 
of our Chinese assistants projected at all angles. They had 
to glue themselves to the loads wherever they could find 
a sticking place. We had expected to do but little travel- 
ing by car, and the failure of our lake project necessitated 
a reorganization of the entire Expedition. 

The course was set northeast over ground made famil- 

243 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



iar by our 1928 explorations. The route had been 
mapped at that time, so that now we could travel rapidly, 
unretarded by topographic work. The first evening we 
slept under the stars one hundred and thirty miles from 
Hatt-in-Sumu. Next day we were at Mastodon Camp. 
The tents were pitched on the edge of the gray bluff 
where we had camped in 1928. 

We felt that if we followed the escarpment both north 
and south, there must be other fossil-bearing exposures. 
We wanted more of the great shovel-tusked mastodon. 
The jaw was fine, but it did not go far enough. Of course, 
our great hope was that we might find a quicksand or 
bog deposit. Such spots acted in the past just as they do 
now. The most famous examples are the asphalt pits of 
La Brea in California. 

There animals came to drink at the shining pools of 
water which gathered on the surface of the soft tar. The 
instant that their feet touched the tar they were held as 
securely as a fly on sticky paper. Once a herbivorous ani- 
mal was caught, the trap was doubly baited. Prowling 
carnivores, particularly the saber-toothed tiger, came to 
the edge of the pits. Perhaps a fat bison lay there, strug- 
gling in the tar. With a snarl, the tiger leaped and him- 
self was caught. I do not know the exact number of 
saber-toothed tiger remains that have been taken out of 
La Brea, but it runs into several hundreds. Until a few 
years ago, when fossil hunters began excavations there, 
the asphalt was acting just as it had done since the begin- 
ning of the Ice Age. At the time Walter Granger last 
visited the pits he saw a rabbit and a heron struggling in 
the tar. 

244 



THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



Bogs and quicksands are similar traps, although not 
quite so fatal. Unquestionably such spots must have ex- 
isted along the shores of this ancient Mongolian lake. 
They would be our best hope, too, for the remains of 
primates. Even as early as the Pliocene, several million 
years ago, primitive humans were more intelligent than 
the animals about them. They probably knew enough to 
avoid such places. Still, accidents happen. Men get caught 
in bogs and quicksands even today. I have had one or two 
narrow escapes myself. 

In a country like Mongolia, search for human remains 
is pretty difficult. It is just about like looking for the 
proverbial needle in a haystack. Almost all important 
human finds have been made in dwelling caves. There 
were very few caves in Mongolia during Pliocene times, 
and there are few now. I might almost say that they are 
non-existent. The early men of this region had to accus- 
tom themselves to a life in the open, seeking shelter on 
the lee side of a bank or under rocks. When they died 
their bones were washed away or scattered by predatory 
animals. Therefore our best chance is to find the remains 
of some unfortunate individual who had sunk in quick- 
sand, or some deposit where a gently flowing stream had 
carried bones along, finally to bury them in soft sedi- 
ments- We have found many such places in the past, but 
the strata in which they occurred were too old. 

The day after we arrived at Mastodon Camp, Granger, 
Pre Teilhard de Chardin, the famous French savant, 
and myself went southward along the edge of the escarp- 
ment to see what we could see. We followed the shell 
lines of the old lake shore, investigating every point where 

245 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the desert vegetation had been eroded and the gray sedi- 
ments appeared. Everywhere there were bone fragments. 
On the side of an outlying hill I saw a bit of white bone 
three inches long. I touched it gently with my foot, but 
it did not move. Dropping to my knees, I brushed away 
the surface soil with a whisk broom. A flat bone was 
exposed; then teeth appeared. I knew that I had gone 
far enough, and called Granger. 

Under Walter's expert manipulation, the jaw of a 
mastodon was soon exposed, with the molar teeth and 
one tusk in position. It was not the scoop-shovel fellow, 
but quite a different type a round-tusked mastodon. 
This was a new animal for the formation. Leaving it for 
future removal, we drove to a long exposure of deeply 
eroded badlands which were visible several miles away. 
There was much broken fossil bone lying on the surface. 
In one spot we discovered what appeared to be four or 
five bone hillocks. Vertebrae, ribs and limb bones were 
just visible embedded in the gray earth. We could see 
that it followed the shell line of the lake shore. Almost 
certainly it marked a former bog. 

Camp was shifted next day. It was a drive of only 
eleven miles over a hard gravel peneplain. Just as we 
stopped the cars on the escarpment a big gray wolf dashed 
over the edge and across the plain. He had been asleep 
in one of the ravines below us and certainly made a mis- 
take in coming up to see what the noise was all about. I 
reached my rifle first and rolled him over in full run at 
three hundred yards. The tents were pitched on the very 
brink of the bluff. A weird panorama of red and gray 
ravines and buttes spread out below us. Far away across 
246 



THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



the basin the Arshanta escarpment showed as a sheer wall 
of purple and gold. The plain which stretched away 
behind camp was almost terrifying in its vastness. We 
knew that for many miles there was neither water nor 
Mongols. 

One morning the cooks shouted that a pair of wolves 
were only a short distance from camp. I jumped into a 
car with two of our Chinese. The wolves were legging 
it straight for the center of the plain, where the going 
was a bit rough. The car could only do twenty-five miles 
an hour and the wolves a little better than that. They 
pulled away from us slowly until we found a stretch of 
hard gravel. At forty miles an hour we overtook them, 
and I got in one shot at nearly four hundred yards. The 
rearmost wolf dropped flat. Rushing past him, we fol- 
lowed the other, which had a long start. He twisted and 
turned, always seeking the roughest ground. After five 
miles I got a bullet in his quarters, but he kept going. 
For twenty miles we followed that wretched wolf. He 
would disappear over a rise and lie down in a ravine or 
behind a stone. After we had passed, he would try to 
sneak out unseen. 

Finally we lost him when the car was stopped by a 
sand pit. Then I looked about to see where we were. For 
the life of me, I couldn't tell. The sun was obscured by 
heavy clouds. The horizon was a flat line, except where 
patches of mirage piled up visionary mountains. There 
were no more landmarks than at sea. Mentally I tried 
to remember our course. I had a feeling that we had 
traveled generally southeast, but in the excitement of 
the chase I could not be sure. The gasoline tank regis- 

247 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



tered five gallons. Half a bag o water hung on the car, 
but the radiator was nearly dry- My compass wasn't where 
it should have been, in my pocket. 

Following our tracks backward netted nothing, for 
we soon lost them on a wide stretch of gravel. We could 
only travel blindly in the direction where I thought camp 
ought to be. The horizon line continued flat, no matter 
how far we went. Now and then I steered toward what I 
thought was a promontory, only to see it stream off into 
the vague lines of mirage. 

The situation was uncomfortable, but not really seri- 
ous. If the gas gave out before we reached camp, we would 
just have to sit and wait. Fortunately I shot an antelope. 
That would give us something to eat, and we could drink 
the water from the radiator. I knew that eventually the 
others would find us. It hardly seemed possible that they 
would be worried enough to search before evening. In 
camp they would think that we had joined the party at 
a fossil pit, six miles south. I would get the car to the 
highest ground and, when night came, turn the spotlight 
on the sky. Such a ray can be seen for a long distance. 

These thoughts were going through my mind as we 
bumped our way across the plain. Strange how much 
rougher it seemed than when we had the wolf in sight. 
Perhaps I was all wrong and we were going in the oppo- 
site direction. I could only trust my instinct, for there 
was absolutely nothing in the landscape to give a clew. 
We traveled for two hours. There were two gallons of 
gas left. That would only give us twenty miles in the 
rough going. It didn't look so good. 

A little later my eye caught a small patch of gray 
248 



THE MYSTERIOUS LAKE 



sediment lying on the prevailing red earth. I stopped and 
examined it carefully. There was no doubt that it was 
the fossil-bearing clay of our deposits. There were none 
of the gray sediments on the eastern side of the plateau; 
therefore we must be going in the right direction west. 
A gallon of gasoline still remained, but my worries had 
gone. Although the plain appears to be absolutely flat, 
it really isn't. It rolls away in great undulations like the 
long, smooth swells of a calm sea. From the crest of a 
land wave I saw eleven blue masses swimming in the heat 
waves of the desert. They rose and sank, floated uncer- 
tainly in the light breeze, and finally settled to earth as 
we approached. It was our camp, three miles away. There 
was still a little gas left when we drove in, but only a 
little. Another four miles would have consumed the last 
drop. That indefinable direction instinct which all ex- 
plorers develop unconsciously had taken us home as 
surely as a compass. We often marvel at the direction 
instinct of animals. To me, it does not seem at all strange. 
That sense is much more highly developed than in man 
and they have to use it constantly. Mongols have it to an 
amazing degree much more than any white man. They 
use it every day. Without it, they never could exist in 
the Gobi. 



249 



CHAPTER XVIII 



The Fate of the Rash Platybelodon 

OUR caravan Mongols had taken the camels down into 
the basin, where the feed was better than on the plain. 
One of them came up, badly frightened, for a wolf had 
bitten a girl in the thigh when she tried to drive it away 
from a freshly killed sheep. He was worried about the 
camels. Mac Young went down next day and found 
thirty-three sheep lying on the plains with their throats 
mangled. Three wolves had rushed into the flock and 
almost annihilated it in a few moments. The wolves had 
become a veritable plague. We killed eleven, but there 
seemed to be many left. In the western Gobi, wolves 
are remarkably scarce, considering the abundance of 
game. There we would seldom get more than five or six 
in a season. We named the place Wolf Camp. 

It was a very lovely spot and all of us enjoyed it. Fortu- 
nately there were many gazelles on the plain. Antelopes, 
to us, are what seals and polar bears are to the Arctic 
explorer. Venison forms the basis of almost every meal 
and no one seems to tire of it. I do not know any other 
wild game that we could eat so continuously. I suppose 
the reason is because gazelle meat has very little wild 
flavor as a rule. 

Every other day I used to ask Lieut. Bill Wyman, 
topographer, if he wanted to go to market. He never 
25 



THE FATE OF THE RASH PLATYBELODON 

refused and we would start out in the small car. Almost 
any direction would do. We were sure to find antelope 
within a few miles. From the summit of a ground swell 
we would sweep the plain with field glasses until antelope 
were sighted. 

Running toward them diagonally, we could entice 
them up as a magnet draws steel. A wild ride at full speed 
across country, rough or smooth alike; a sudden stop and 
a leap to the ground on either side; two or three shots 
from each man; usually two antelopes. That is how we 
would go to market. We seldom shot under three hun- 
dred yards, and the animals were running at fifty to sixty 
miles an hour. It really is not so difficult as it sounds. 
Often sportsmen have said to me, "You could hardly see 
an antelope at four hundred yards, to say nothing of 
hitting it." 

But they don't know Mongolian conditions. Crystal- 
clear air, a flat plain and gazelles running smoothly in a 
straight line. If they only knew enough to dodge about, 
we would not get half as many. The first shot usually 
gives the range, for the bullet always kicks up a spurt of 
dust. After that, we ought to score with the second and 
third, and sometimes the fourth; then they are beyond 
range. Often we have loaded the car with three or four 
gazelles after only one race. It isn't sport, that is true. 
But we were after meat. Twenty-five men in camp eat 
an astonishing amount. Personally I would much rather 
go to a market and buy my meat across the counter. I've 
killed too many gazelles perhaps a thousand and it has 
ceased to be fun. I know exactly how well I can shoot, and 
the only satisfaction I get is in making a clean kill, so 

251 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



that the beautiful animal does not suffer. If it were pos- 
sible I would not shoot a single one, but it can't be 
helped. New men always get a tremendous thrill out of 
hunting antelopes, and it surely is exciting at first. I've 
had too much of it, that's one reason. The other is that 
now I am not keen to kill anything except dangerous 
game. Hunt a tiger on foot and he has a chance to strike 
back on more or less equal terms. 

Wolf Camp proved to be a veritable fossil mine. Our 
prediction about the bogs and quicksands along the 
shores of the ancient lake were correct. When the low 
ridge with fossil exposures just below the tents was 
opened we found a continuous stratum of bone for thirty 
feet. The men removed the surface mostly by brushing 
the sediments away with whisk brooms. The skull of a 
baby shovel-tusked mastodon appeared. There was ap- 
propriate rejoicing in the camp. The next day another 
skull, and then a series of jaws. Some of them were less 
than two feet long, but had the milk teeth and flat tusks 
in position. One skull was that of a just-born infant. The 
place was a baby death trap. 

The matrix indicated quicksand and we could read 
the story plainly enough. The great mastodon mothers 
had come thei:e with their babies to drink. Both surely 
were caught in the treacherous sands, but the mothers 
were strong enough to extricate themselves. The chil- 
dren, all very young, could not get out. That must have 
been the case, for with one exception we found no bones 
of adult mastodons. The skulls of the little fellows showed 
that all were much too young to be wandering about 
by themselves. Moreover, there were a good many skulls 

252 



THE FATE OF THE RASH PLATYBELODON 

and jaws of other small mammals antelopes, deer, fox, 
and several types of carnivores. 

One day, Granger, Thomson and I went to look for 
a broken skull which Walter had seen on our initial visit 
to this escarpment. Granger always says that the best 
way to find a fossil is to lose one. While you are searching 
for it you are certain to discover something else. The 
paradox proved true in this case. We simply could not 
locate that broken skull, but a bit of bone caught my 
eyes, and, brushing away the sediment, I exposed a mas- 
todon's molar tooth. A few moments later Granger re- 
moved a flat stone block. It was like lifting a trapdoor, 
for under it lay another great tooth, firmly set in bone. 
Granger followed it down while I looked on, seething 
with excitement. The enormous spoon-shaped lower jaw 
of a shovel-tusked mastodon Platybelo don slowly took 
shape under his brush. It was five feet three inches long, 
and the two flat, platelike lower tusks measured fifteen 
inches across. In the meantime Bill Thomson had deter- 
mined that the other teeth belonged to an adult female 
skull. We were exultant, for there was every reason to 
believe that the specimens were perfect. 

What we had found proved to be skulls, jaws and 
parts of the skeletons of a big mother shovel-tusker and 
her baby. No other bones were there only those two 
individuals. We are at a loss to know just why they died 
at that particular spot. It could hardly have been a bog 
or quicksand, for in that event bones of other animals 
would certainly have been preserved. Perhaps they both 
fell into a hole or part of a bank caved in upon them. 
Whatever the cause, there they had died, mother and 

253 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



baby together. It was a kind fate which directed our steps 
to their unmarked grave. 

During the days that we were excavating these two 
specimens, Pere Teilhard de Chardin prospected the 
escarpment farther to the south. Six miles from camp 
he discovered an amphitheater in the badlands, capped 
to the west with snow-white marl. The slopes of the 
familiar gray sediments were strewn thickly with broken 
mastodon bones teeth, fragments of skulls, limbs, verte- 
brae and dozens of ribs. In a rectangle formed by four 
blocks of sandstone, part of a jaw was embedded. 

The fragments were confined to an area about fifty 
by thirty feet. There was every indication that it had 
been another death trap. We began work with the keenest 
anticipation. Still, no one suspected that we were about 
to excavate what will go into history as one of the world's 
most remarkable fossil deposits. The first day's work dem- 
onstrated beyond question that this was the site of a 
former bog. I wish that I were able to give an adequate 
impression of the thrilling interest in opening this ancient 
grave. Out there in the desert, in the brilliant sunshine 
of the year 1930, we were reading the story of a tragedy 
enacted millions of years ago. Every hour, at first every 
few minutes, a new page was turned in this book of stone. 

We know just what happened. The tale we read is 
as follows: 

A quiet estuary ran inland from the main lake. Lush 
vegetation lined the shores. Floating plants and green 
tubers sent their roots downward through the shallow 
waters into a deep well of mud. A huge mastodon, his 
monstrous shovel jaw dredging up masses of trailing 



THE FATE OF THE RASH PLATYBELODON 

grasses, worked his way slowly along the shore. The suc- 
culent tubers, resting so innocently just beyond the 
water's edge, enticed him farther and farther into the 
treacherous mud. Suddenly, amidst his greedy feeding, 
he found that he could not lift his ponderous legs. He 
struggled madly, only to sink deeper and deeper into the 
mire of death. Frenzied trumpeting echoed from the high 
shores. At last they ended in exhausted gurgles as the 
colossal beast sank below the surface. 

Another came, and still others; each one to die as he 
had died. Twenty, we know, were trapped; probably 
more than that. Down in the black mud tons of flesh 
macerated and dropped away from the great skeletons, 
leaving the bones to separate, one by one. Some were 
crushed and broken when other victims piled upon them. 
Some remained as perfect as when they bore the living 
flesh. 

Perhaps at last the death trap was full to overflowing; 
perhaps the water, fouled by decaying flesh, sickened the 
vegetable life and left the trap unbaited; or perhaps the 
estuary itself dried up. Whatever the immediate cause, 
we know that as centuries passed into thousands of centu- 
ries the great lake disappeared. Countless tons of sedi- 
ments were deposited on its dry floor. The mastodons' 
unmarked grave was buried deeply, hopelessly lost. 

Then came a change of climate. Gradually the dry 
winds of the Ice Age, bitterly cold, removed the sedi- 
ments in the old lake bed. Particle by particle they were 
swept high in the air, to be dropped upon the plains of 
China, three hundred miles away. It goes on today. The 
desert is still giving up its surface, being worn down by 

S55 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



the unceasing Gobi winds. Thus it has been eroded for 
perhaps a million years. 

In our search for the hidden stories of Nature, we 
found the mastodons' grave in that long-dry bog. But we 
came half a century too late. Already the upper part of 
the deposit had been worn away by wind and water, 
which destroyed exposed bones as they destroyed the 
rocks. Still, much remained. When we removed the cover 
of sand a mass of fossil bones was disclosed in a thick 
lens of green clay. They lay like a huge pile of jackstraws. 
Great scoop jaws, many of them nearly perfect, were 
heaped upon one another in every possible position. Some 
extended straight down; others at oblique angles; still 
others almost horizontal. Most of the jaws were more 
than five feet long. The part of the jaw which we dis- 
covered in 1928 had been enshrined with reverence as 
one of the prize exhibits of the Museum. There we had 
half a dozen complete specimens visible at one time. 
Mixed with them in a seemingly hopeless jumble were 
enormous flat shoulder blades, pelvic bones, limbs and 
scores of ribs. 

It was difficult to remove any bone, for usually it lay 
under several others. Only by finding the topmost ones 
could work begin. The bones themselves were badly pre- 
served. They were like chalk and impregnated with min- 
eral matter only to a comparatively small degree. Walter 
Granger and Bill Thomson, with their five trained Chi- 
nese assistants, did all the work. The rest of us were only 
too eager to help, but we didn't fit in. After I had dug 
into a jaw, Granger requested me to cease. I retired to 
256 



THE FATE OF THE RASH PLATYBELODON 

the outskirts, where I could watch operations and drift 
in fancy back to the days when it all had happened. Doc- 
tor Garber fared better, for with his surgeon's tempera- 
ment and technic he became not only an accepted but a 
sought-after assistant. 

The bones were so soft that as soon as a portion had 
been exposed it must be soaked in shellac. Thus hard- 
ened, more matrix could be removed and more bone 
exposed. Next, the entire surface was covered with a Japa- 
nese rice paper and gum arabic. The paper and gum 
cemented in place any loose particles and strengthened 
the specimen. When the entire bone was laid bare, it was 
covered with strips of burlap soaked in flour paste. In a 
few hours the paste had dried and the bone was inclosed 
in a hard shell. Then it could be turned over, pasted on 
the other side and packed without fear of damage. In 
the laboratory of the Museum the bandages can be soft- 
ened with water and easily removed. 

It must not be imagained that the deposit was exca- 
vated in a few days. Would that it had been possible! 
For six weeks the men worked there. 

The hole assumed gigantic proportions. It was amaz- 
ing that we did not find more skulls intact. Only three 
were removed, and they were those of big bull mastodons. 
But twenty-five ivory tusks were taken out. We wondered 
why such slender bones as the five-foot jaws had remained 
unbroken when the skulls were destroyed. Still, an ele- 
phant's skull is by no means the solid mass that it appears 
to be. The walls are filled with air chambers and the skull 
is like a gigantic honeycomb. Probably they could not 

257 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



withstand the pressure and suction of the mud. Fifteen 
great scoop jaws were recovered, and half a dozen broken 
pairs. Virtually all the other bones of the skeleton, as 
well. There is very little that we do not know about this 
amazing creature. 



258 




GRANGER AND THOMSON WITH A SHOVEL-TUSKED MASTODON'S JAW 

This specimen is still in its field casing of burlap and paste 




ti 



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CHAPTER XIX 



Wolf Camp 

WHETHER or not a fossil hunter subscribes to the late 
Eighteenth Amendment is neither here nor is it there. 
The fact remains that he must have alcohol. Not for the 
good of his body but for the good of the fossils. Soft bones 
must be hardened with shellac before they can be re- 
moved. The shellac must be cut with alcohol. The bones 
of the mastodons at Wolf Camp were like chalk and they 
just drank shellac. After all, they had been dry for some 
millions of years. 

We had plenty of alcohol, or rather we did have 
until one night during the end of June, when the quarry 
had been almost excavated. Then a storm ca,me along 
that was a storm. About as near a typhoon as one ever 
gets in the Gobi Desert. Floods of rain and an eighty-mile 
wind. It was a miserable night. Tents went down on all 
sides. One moment we lay snug and warm in our fur 
bags; the next we were enveloped in a sodden mass of 
billowing cloth, fighting madly to get out. Paddling 
about, half naked in a freezing rain, in the middle of 
the night, is either tragic or funny. We chose to believe 
it was funny. Because every one else was in the same 
mess, it was not so difficult to see the humor. 

Granger and I shared the big tent. The edges had 
been weighted with whatever was handy stones, boxes, 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



saddles and bags anything to keep it down. Next morn- 
ing, to our intense chagrin, we found that one of the 
cases we had seized in the darkness had contained our 
precious alcohol. It was gone, every drop. Leaked out 
through a hole in the top of the tin. 

That situation did not strike us as being at all funny. 
Work must stop unless we could get more alcohol. It 
meant going to Peking. Fortunately, that was only four 
hundred miles. Had the loss occurred during any of the 
other Expeditions, when we were a thousand miles out 
in the desert, it would have ruined us. 

Mac Young and I were obviously indicated to do the 
trip. We were not a bit keen about it, for we had not 
been away long enough to make the fleshpots of civiliza- 
tion desirable. Moreover, the work in camp was fasci- 
nating, and Peking in July is like a blast furnace. Since 
it had to be, I decided to take two cars and load them 
with specimens. A full-sized war was going on not far 
from Peking and Mongolia might be cut off by retreating 
soldiers at any time. The more fossils that were safe in 
my house the happier we would feel. 

Driving away from camp just as the sun rose, we cut 
straight across the desert to the main Kalgan-Urga trail. 
The vast, fiat plains were glorious in the cool morning 
air. Hardly ever were we out of sight of gazelles feeding 
singly or in herds. Bustards and demoiselle cranes circled 
like aeroplanes beyond the cars. Always there was some- 
thing interesting to one who could read the book of 
Nature. 

Once on the main trail, we kept a keen watch for 
bandits. They might take pot shots at us from behind 
260 



WOLF CAMP 



the hills. But the road was free that trip, and we drove 
steadily mile after mile for fourteen hours. Two days 
later we were in Peking. 

It was the Fourth of July, and we duly presented our- 
selves at the Peking Club reception. Gossip buzzed. Why 
had we returned so suddenly? When I told them we came 
for alcohol, a roar went up: "We thought you were non- 
drinkers in the Gobi! That's too thin! What is the real 
reason, now? Just between friends; you know that we'll 
keep it quiet." 

No one would believe the truth. Peking is like that. 
It scents a mystery, a romance or a scandal in the simplest 
things. So we let it go. As a matter of fact, most of them 
decided that I had returned to play in the polo tourna- 
ment that began that week. 

We gazed with satisfaction at the eighteen cases of 
fossils that reposed safely in our big laboratory. They had 
been piloted from Kalgan to Peking on the train by 
Young after passing out quantities of dollars in "squeeze." 
There is almost nothing that money won't do in China. 

A week later we were on the back trail, driving hard 
for camp. At eleven o'clock in the morning we reached 
the Black Water, a treacherous swamp, the worst place 
on the road. Three times in a quarter of a mile our car 
broke through the thin dry crust and went down to the 
axles. Only by sinking a foundation in the seemingly 
bottomless mud and lifting it out with the jack, could 
the car be extricated. For seven mortal hours we worked 
feverishly. At this place there are a few scattered Chinese 
villages of dubious reputation. More than one car had 
been robbed when mired and helpless. At least fifty peo- 

261 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



pie were clustered about, and we felt sure that i dark- 
ness found us there we would have a lively night. In 
daylight we were safe enough, for both of us wore heavy 
revolvers and kept rifles at hand, even when working at 
the jack. 

By six o'clock we had passed the swamp and were 
again on the hard trail. It began to rain, first in showers, 
then in a steady downpour. Darkness came at eight, when 
we were opposite Chap Ser, the most dangerous place 
in all Inner Mongolia. It is just a collection of Chinese 
mud huts and Mongol yurts at the extreme outer edge 
of cultivation. Bad characters, both Chinese and Mon- 
gol, gather there, and for years it has been a veritable 
bandit stronghold. Even though we faced a cold, wet 
night, there was no question of seeking shelter at that 
place. We drove past at full speed while hard-faced na- 
tives stood in groups, glowering. 

Twenty-two miles beyond Chap Ser were the yurts 
belonging to our caravan Mongols. If we could find them 
in the darkness there would be a dry and safe shelter. 
Driving over a bad trail in the inky blackness of a rainy 
night had its difficulties. It was half-past ten before the 
speedometers registered twenty-two miles. We held a con- 
sultation. The yurts ought to be a half mile off the trail, 
if we were right. We turned abruptly eastward and 
bumped over the rough sagebrush hillocks into the open 
desert. Suddenly a dog barked; then we saw a flicker of 
light. We hit the village right in the middle, but what 
a panic! Men and women ran out, half clothed, scream- 
ing in fear. They thought we were bandits. It was ten 
minutes before they could comprehend who we were. 
262 



WOLF CAMP 



Then Bato's wife cleared her baby and herself out of the 
best yurt, and brought tea and Mongol cheese. Mac and 
I slept like dead men while the rain poured outside. 

At five o'clock the next afternoon we ascended the 
escarpment to the vast peneplain that rolled in yellow, 
waterless waves for a hundred miles to the east. Two 
miles from camp a lone wolf trotted out of the west to 
his nightly hunting ground in the basin. He looked huge 
and gaunt in the slanting sunlight. Puzzled by the cars, 
he loped slowly away, head turned over his shoulder. I 
took one shot and he went down, stone dead. That was 
number thirteen for Wolf Camp. The men were all out 
to meet us when our cars rolled up to the tents. 

"Did you bring the booze?" asked Granger. "We 
haven't had a drop of alcohol for a week." 

First, I had to hear what they had found in my ab- 
sence; then we told them the news of China, and pro- 
duced letters and papers. It was July fourteenth, Bastille 
Day in France, and dinner that night was in honor of 
our colleague, Pre Teilhard de Chardin. The great 
death trap of shovel-tusked mastodons was exhausted I 
learned. A dozen jaws and two skulls, many tusks and 
more skeletal parts had been exposed. They were wait- 
ing only for shellac, to take them out. 

Already work had been resumed on the deposit just 
below camp, where only baby mastodons, deer, foxes, 
and other small mammals had been entombed. The next 
morning Bill Thomson found both thigh bones of an 
adult female mastodon. She had died lying on her side, 
and within the pelvis was the skull and jaw of an unborn 
baby. Bill performed the operation with Granger in at- 

263 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



tendance as consulting physician. The rest of us watched 
and offered gratuitous advice. Also we referred to them 
insultingly as "palaeontological midwives" and "fossil ob- 
stetricians" who could only deliver a baby stillborn. 

Foetal specimens of any fossil animal are extremely 
rare and enormously interesting. Particularly important 
are they in the Proboscidea, because the teeth of mam- 
moths, elephants and mastodons have a growth and suc- 
cession quite unlike that of other mammals. The great 
molars grow upward and forward, pushing out the first 
teeth, so that only two are in use on either side of each 
jaw at any one time. Our unborn baby had a jaw about 
twelve inches long. In the adult the jaw is nearly six feet 
in length. The two flat incisor tusks projected only an 
inch beyond the bone, in contrast to the ten-inch plates 
of a full-grown male. 

The collectors also found in the deposit the skull of 
a deer with remarkable antlers. They resemble a woman's 
cupped hand cut off at the wrist, and are just about that 
size. The antler tines are like small spread fingers. Except 
for the pregnant female mastodon, all the other animals 
that had been trapped in this ancient bog were small 
types. Therefore, as I have remarked, we concluded that 
it was of very soft, sticky mud, but fairly shallow, en- 
abling the larger beasts to extricate themselves. 

Exploration to the north and east along the escarp- 
ment which marked the former lake shore revealed other 
bog deposits. One was exactly like the great quarry from 
which we had removed so many shovel-tusked mastodons. 
Two or three huge jaws were partly exposed. Doubtless, 
it would prove to be as rich as the other, if not more so. 
264 



WOLF CAMP 



But we could not afford to spend more time in that for- 
mation, although we had but scratched the surface. Two 
months were gone already and the season was half over. 
A request to the Chinese Committee for the Preservation 
of Cultural Objects, in Peking, for permits to continue 
the Expedition's researches next year, had met with dis- 
couragement. Such permission would be granted only on 
conditions which no museum could accept. 

After five years of arduous exploration of the Gobi 
Desert, and the expenditure of more than a half million 
dollars, we had at last discovered the region where we 
might find primates. The bog and river drift deposits 
along the shores of this ancient lake may well be the 
tombs of primitive humans, or near-humans. Primates 
may have been trapped with other mammals in those far, 
dim days when the great shovel-tusked mastodons 
splashed along the edges of the lake. But careful, syste- 
matic excavation of every deposit is the only possible way 
to succeed. Valuable specimens, each one of which reveals 
a new page in the book of ancient life, will be found 
whether or not primates are there. That summer we had 
made a beginning, but only a beginning. Several years 
of work remain to be done. It was useless for us to under- 
take a proper systematic exploration, knowing that it 
could not be completed except under impossible restric- 
tions. Several untouched localities awaited us in the west 
where we were sure we would find a new fauna and we 
must at least dip into them before the season ended. 
Therefore, most reluctantly, it was decided to terminate 
the work at Wolf Camp. 

In the meantime Young and I made another trip to 

265 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Peking with two carloads of specimens. The war news 
indicated that the northern generals probably would get 
the worst of the struggle and that we had best get our 
valuable collections to Peking as rapidly as possible. On 
the second trip we brought back as a camp visitor the 
late Colonel N. E. Margetts, Military Attache of the 
American Legation. 

The grassland gazelles had already begun to gather 
in great herds, and Colonel Margetts saw a spectacle 
which thrilled him to the toes. It was late in the after- 
noon and the low sun shot oblique golden paths between 
the rolling hills. In the shadows of a deep valley we 
saw a restless mass of yellow forms. Thousands upon 
thousands of antelope does, bucks and skipping babies. 
Colonel Margetts could hardly believe his eyes. It even 
gave me a thrill, and I have seen many such. Probably 
nowhere else except in Africa can one find such herds 
of any game animal. As the cars swung down the trail, 
the herd moved slowly up the slope of a low hill. Shafts 
of sunlight caught the leaders, like the spotlights of a 
theater, changing them to unreal shapes of living gold. 
They blanketed the hillside and stretched away into the 
dim mystery of the darkened valley. 

There seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of wolves 
at Wolf Camp. Some one shot a wolf almost every day. 
One of the Chinese surprised a pair with two young some 
distance from their den* The mother seized one of the 
babies, about the size of a cat, in her mouth and made 
off down a ravine. Colonel Margetts and I shot two half- 
grown cubs at the same place. 

Of course, antelope meat was our chief food but 
266 



WOLF CAMP 



sand grouse furnished a welcome variety. They are 
strange birds, half pigeon, half partridge in appearance. 
Their three-toed feet are padded like those of a camel, 
to fit them for walking on the sand. At night and in the 
morning they make long flights for water. 

We used to conceal ourselves near the well, where 
there was a small pool, and had magnificent shooting. 
Seventy-four birds in an hour and a half was our best 
bag. It could be duplicated almost any day. 

Lieutenant Wyman was kept busy mapping the little- 
known region to the east of camp. When he had finished 
and the baby pit in front of the tents yielded no more 
specimens, we shifted operations fifty miles due west. 

Walter Granger and I stood in front of our tent on 
the last evening, looking at the great pile of fossil speci- 
mens. Then we turned to the shadow-flecked badlands 
filled with the light of a gorgeous sunset and he said to 
me, "Roy, we've given the Gobi some of the best years 
of our lives but the desert has paid its debt/' 



267 



CHAPTER XX 



The End of the Trail 

IN 1938, Granger, while on a trip of exploration, had 
seen a rough escarpment fronting a vast basin. He stopped 
an hour and found few fossils, but many snakes. The 
poisonous vipers wriggled out from crevices in the rocks, 
from behind bushes and from under stones. He came 
away with a very vivid recollection of the place as being 
most unhealthy. Still it held possibilities of important 
fossil discoveries. 

So we pitched camp prepared to fight a battle for pos- 
session with the snakes. But for some strange reason the 
reptiles had virtually disappeared. Only five or six dis- 
turbed our peace. Granger discovered one curled up 
under his hat and narrowly missed stepping on another 
with his bare feet. But that was nothing compared to 
1925, when, at Viper Camp, we killed forty-seven in the 
tents. 

Our new home, Camp Margetts, was much like the 
place we had just left. Behind us was a great plain of 
gravel and stunted sagebrush; in front, a basin so vast 
that to the naked eye its northern boundary became only 
a vague horizon blur of purple. It was like looking over 
a calm sea from the deck of a giant ship. That night in 
the silence of the desert twilight we watched gazelles 
feeding almost at our feet. A hundred or more picked 
268 



THE END OF THE TRAIL 



their way daintily among the clumps of sagebrush, nib- 
bling at the tufts of short, stiff grass. Now and then they 
stood motionless to gaze at the city of cloth which had 
so suddenly risen on the empty desert. We did not molest 
these gentle visitors, but shot our meat behind camp on 
the plain. 

It is always interesting to make the first reconnais- 
sance of a new exposure. Usually some specimens are 
easily found. Each man selects a part of the escarpment 
and skims the fossil cream. Later, other bones, not so 
obvious, are discovered. Titanotheres occupied the center 
of the stage for the first few days. Discovery of a dozen 
species and genera, all of them grotesque creatures, made 
us think that we knew the most bizarre animals Nature 
could produce. Yet almost immediately, at Camp Mar- 
getts, a beast with a saddle head was found. It was a new 
titanothere. 

The great Embolotherium, the battering-ram titano- 
there, which we discovered in 1928, also had a saddle 
head, but this fellow was quite unlike his larger relative. 

In some parts of the escarpment there was a top layer 
of golden yellow sand, evidently a later formation. It 
was identified definitely by discovering in it the bones 
of a Baluchi therium* Entelodon, a giant pig, was another 
discovery. Also several new rhinoceroses, one of them 
with a long, slender muzzle like a horse, and a carnivore, 
somewhat resembling an enormous wolf, are unlike any- 
thing known to science. Probably the latter played havoc 
among the titanotheres that then roamed the Mongolian 
plains. Truly this Gobi Desert was a strange place in 
those ancient days! 

269 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Among the most remarkable finds were fourteen soft- 
shell turtles, related to Trionyx. Fossil turtles rather bore 
me, as a rule. They show so little. Even back in that 
incredibly remote time of the Age of Reptiles turtles 
were just turtles. They look almost like the turtles of 
today. They do not present any very interesting facts of 
evolution. But these turtles at Camp Margetts were 
rather special exhibits. Soft-shell turtles or others, for 
that matter that have any parts of the skeleton preserved 
are extremely rare. These turtles, found by Buckshot, 
not only had the upper and lower shells but the skulls, 
vertebrae, limbs and feet almost as beautifully preserved 
as though the animals hadjiied yesterday. Seven of them 
lay so close together that they could not be separated and 
had to be removed in a huge block. The others were 
taken out one by one. What could have caused so many 
to die in that single spot? I suppose that they did not all 
actually die there, but were swept by the current of a 
stream into some quiet backwater as a final resting place. 
One thing that interested me enormously was a quan- 
tity of charcoal close to the turtle deposit. They were 
pieces of twigs about the size of my finger, but many of 
them. One immediately thinks of human work where fire 
is discovered. I can hear some one suggest that primitive 
men had gathered turtles for soup and that the charcoal 
was the remains of their fire. What a spectacular story 
it would make if we only had a few facts to support such 
a thesis. But I am afraid that it can't be done. Man may 
have existed as far back as the Oligocene as a creature 
already separate from the ape stem. Professor Osborn 
thinks so. But it is as certain as anything in the past can 
270 



THE END OF THE TRAIL 



be, that no pre-human could have had sufficient intelli- 
gence to utilize fire at that early period. The presence 
of charcoal near the turtles must be ascribed to fire from 
natural causes, probably lightning. Forest fires today 
often arise from trees being struck by lightning, and 
doubtless it happened just as frequently in the past. 
Quite certainly it was in that way that early humans 
first learned the use of fire. 

One morning, Colonel Margetts, Granger, Young and 
I drove to the southwest to follow the course of the escarp- 
ment upon the edge of which we were encamped. The 
great bluff extended for many miles, sometimes almost 
lost in gentle slopes, only to appear again as a precipitous 
wall, deep bitten by ravines and gullies. Everywhere there 
were evidences of fossils. Five miles out in the basin we 
could see a second exposure of red badlands. Colonel 
Margetts shot a wolf and an antelope before we reached 
them. Wandering over the brick-red sediments, all of 
us eventually arrived at an isolated cone-shaped butte. 
From its low summit we looked down upon a relief map 
of rounded hillocks, tiny, flat plains and miniature ra- 
vines. Almost every inch was covered with animal foot- 
prints. An intricate tracery of innumerable lines crossed 
and recrossed the smooth red surface. Just below us a 
herd of gazelle had wandered out from the mouth of a 
greater ravine. Their delicate, pointed tracks showed 
clear and distinct. An antelope had been chased by a 
wolf around the base of yonder hill. A skull and bleached 
bones showed where a gazelle had been devoured. Foxes, 
following hard upon the six-foot leaps of kangaroo rats, 
had left their story. The track of a hare, going slowly, 

271 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



led to the edge of a shallow ravine, but the little creature 
had left in sudden panic. I wondered why. Close under 
the bank, in soft sand, was a wolf bed. No wonder that 
the hare had run for its life. Feathers of a sand grouse 
were scattered at one spot, but no tracks showed. The 
attack had come from above. A falcon, probably, had 
struck in the air, dropping like a bullet from the clouds. 

For an hour I wandered over the badlands reading 
the story of life and death in the desert. Sixty million 
years ago, when these red sediments were being depos- 
ited, the drama was the same, but with different actors. 
Then rhinoceroses trod this ground; the gigantic An- 
drewsarcus, greatest of all known flesh eaters, prowled at 
night, and hyenas fed upon the bodies of dying titano- 
theres. It was a world of nightmare creatures, but the 
vegetation was not so strange. Then the desert did not 
exist. The high plateaus of Africa today, with their open 
plains and sparse forests, offer a convincing parallel to 
ancient Mongolia. 

At one spot in the sediments I found bone fragments 
thickly scattered on the surface. Granger marked it for 
future investigation and it proved to be a veritable gold 
mine. Some unexplained natural cataclysm had over- 
whelmed a whole herd of Chalicotheres. They had all 
died in this spot or been carried there by water. Skulls 
and skeletons were packed in a solid bone layer. The 
Chalicothere was a "clawed-hoofed" mammal, a veritable 
paradox. The head resembled that of a horse, but the 
hoofs were replaced by enormous claws. Palaeontologists 
have puzzled for years about the meaning of those claws 
and hardly a reasonable suggestion has been forthcoming. 
272 



THE END OF THE TRAIL 



Other Chalicotheres are known in America and Europe, 
but we had found only jaws in previous years. 

On August twenty-eighth Mac Young and I left for 
Kalgan on the fourth trip, with two carloads of fossils. 
I was to stay in Peking to carry on diplomatic negotiations 
for the continuation of our explorations. Granger took 
charge of the field work of the Expedition and expected 
to remain in Mongolia for another month. The war had 
progressed so unfavorably for the northern generals that 
Yen Hsi-shan needed every man at the front. He with- 
drew the soldiers who had been patrolling the Kalgan- 
Urga trail, and immediately bandits returned to their 
old hunting grounds. In Chapter VII, on the life of 
McKenzie Young, I have told of our trip down and his 
exciting return when he was attacked by bandits. 

Mac and Liu reached camp at nine o'clock on the 
evening of the attack. Granger had expected to move to a 
new place, but the region they were in was too rich to 
leave. More Amblypods were discovered and they ob- 
tained some of the most valuable specimens of the entire 
expedition. It was not until the end of September that 
they broke camp. 

The camels were sent to Hatt-in Sumu with the speci- 
mens. The men went by motor. Winter came with a rush, 
as it usually does in Mongolia. A blizzard raged all the 
afternoon and night of September thirtieth, burying the 
country in snow. It was high time to be gone. 

Lucky it was that the Expedition moved out when it 
did, for things began to happen on the road the day after 
their departure. Bandits had captured five Chinese mer- 
chants and held them for fifty thousand dollars' ransom, 

273 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



[n retaliation, the "soldiers" took the father and brother 
of the chief brigand. This started a real warfare, for 
isolated groups of bandits consolidated into a force of 
four or five hundred. The road police hastily retired 
from Chap Ser, leaving the robbers in possession. Our 
cars were the last to pass on the trail. 

Mac Young remained in Changpei-hsien, thirty-four 
miles from Kalgan, to receive the camels which were 
bringing our fossils. After a long delay, they arrived, and 
by means of the customary outlay of silver in "squeeze/' 
he got them to Peking. The fossils, spread out upon the 
laboratory floor, were an impressive sight. It was the larg- 
est and perhaps the most important collection ever taken 
out of Central Asia. The dinosaur eggs and some other 
specimens discovered in previous years were more spec- 
tacular and had more popular interest, but from the 
standpoint of pure science they hardly surpassed this col- 
lection. 

It gave us additional proof that the Central Asian 
plateau was one of the greatest centers of origin and dis- 
tribution of animal life during the Age of Reptiles and 
the Age of Mammals, It shows that Mongolia was even 
more favorable for the development of many types of 
mammals than was Europe or America and continued to 
be so long after these groups had disappeared in other 
parts of the world. It gives much additional knowledge 
of the climate, vegetation and physical conditions of this 
great incubator of world life. 

True, we have not been successful in one objective 
of our search the dawn man. It is a scientific tragedy 
that Chinese opposition to foreign investigation should 
274 



THE END OF THE TRAIL 



end our work just when that goal might be attained. 
Still we have shown the way; have broken the trail, as 
it were. Later, others will reap a rich harvest. We are 
more than ever convinced that Central Asia was the 
palaeontological Garden of Eden. Future work will dem- 
onstrate whether we are right or wrong. 



275 



APPENDIX A 



The Dune Dwellers of Mongolia 

DURING our explorations southeast of Mastodon Camp 
at the end of the 1928 Expedition we pitched the tents 
one evening just above a "blow-out" or wind hollow 
in the bottom of which was a well of excellent water. 
Thomson found that the hollow had been a great Dune 
Dweller site. Hundreds of artifacts were scattered about 
and best of all bits of bone were discovered in situ. This 
was the first Dune Dweller station where bones were 
found. 

We spent that evening and all next day prospecting 
the Dune Dweller station which lay so conveniently close 
to our camp. Right in the middle of the path which led 
down into the bottom of the well, an ancient hearth was 
discovered. The earth, fire-blackened and hardened, was 
unmistakable. On the earth itself we found frog and 
bird bones and in the immediate vicinity what evidently 
had been a necklace of fox canine teeth neatly drilled 
through the bones. Also small fresh water clam shells 
were drilled and had been used in a similar way. Bones 
of wild ass, hares, gazelle and many birds were discov- 
ered. Some of the larger bird bones were decorated with 
parallel lines beautifully etched. But not a trace of human 
bones; metates, pestles, scrapers, hammer stones and 
arrow and spear points were numerous. There was also 
276 



APPENDIX A 



much broken pottery which evidently had been made 
by molding the wet clay in a basket. In the vicinity other 
accumulations of artifacts were found showing that this 
must have been the site of a considerable village. It was 
quite the most important station that we have discovered. 

It is most surprising that no human remains have 
been found near any of the Dune Dweller stations. Evi- 
dently the conditions were not proper for the preserva- 
tion of bone or we should have discovered many animal 
remains. These people subsisted largely upon game, and 
of course, hundreds of thousands of animals and birds 
must have been eaten. Yet except for this one spot no 
bones have been discovered. It is entirely probable that 
their dead were buried at some distance from their vil- 
lage sites. 

Although the Dune Dweller culture is somewhat sim- 
ilar to the Azilian of Europe, it differs from it in many 
important ways. It appears to be distinctly Gobian and 
not closely related to any known cultures in other parts 
of the world. Where did they come from and where did 
they go? Only extended -explorations of contiguous re- 
gions can give an answer to the problem. What the Dune 
Dwellers looked like we do not know. That they were 
hunters there can be no doubt. Certainly they dressed in 
skins, for Mongolia was cold in winter even then. But it 
was very much less arid and the Gobi was by no means 
such an inhospitable desert as it is today. 

The Dune Dwellers could not have lived in caves for 
caves are virtually non-existent in Mongolia. They must 
have built shelters out of skins on the sunny sides of 
banks or dunes. The roots of the tamarisk and other stiff 

277 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



vegetation offer obstructions to the wind-blown sand and 
about them dunes are formed. Almost every Gobi lake 
has dunes on at least one side. Thus our people chose 
such spots as permanent camps for they had the essentials 
of life fuel, water and comparative shelter. In the very 
earliest stage of their culture we found no arrow or spear 
points. Presumably they made them of bone which has 
not been preserved. In later deposits small beautifully 
worked arrow points were plentiful. 

We have already found many great residence sites of 
these people in Mongolia. Of course, there must be hun- 
dreds yet undiscovered. At first we thought that they 
were few in number and had a limited distribution. Now 
we know that the opposite is true. Twenty thousand 
years ago Mongolia was much more densely populated 
by these Stone Age people than it is today or probably 
has been during historic times. Even when Genghis Khan 
conquered all of Asia and much of Europe, it is doubtful 
if he had half as great a population from which to recruit 
his armies as existed in Mongolia where the Dune 
Dwellers lived. 

We have explored most of central and southern Mon- 
golia and everywhere this culture appears. Probably the 
Dune Dwellers were grouped in communities where liv- 
ing conditions were most favorable and made excursions 
of short duration into the more arid parts of the desert. 
Certainly they were a hardy people of considerable 
strength and endurance. No weaklings could have lived 
in such open country under the semi-desert conditions, 
and severe climate. Hunting was difficult then as it is 
today. Great skill in stalking was required even though 
278 



APPENDIX A 



game was abundant. Gazelle and wild ass probably 
formed their principal food, reenforced with smaller ani- 
mals such as wolves, foxes, hares, badgers, kangaroo rats 
and other rodents. In the mountains they could get ibex 
and wild sheep. As some of the country was undoubtedly 
sparsely forested wapiti, roedeer, bear and perhaps moose 
were to be had. Birds they could catch in nets and snares, 
but to obtain such food they must exercise a good deal 
of intelligence and skill. That in the later stages, the true 
Neolithic, they had a certain vegetable diet of sorts, we 
were surprised to learn by finding grinding stones and 
rollers. They may have used these to break up roots and 
seeds but it is possible that certain kinds of wild grain 
then grew in Mongolia under the less desert conditions. 

We have discovered no traces of any art. That is 
hardly to be expected from a plains living people. Art 
was only developed during the period of cave life when 
there was opportunity for contemplation. Yet, the skill 
which the Dune Dwellers exhibited in making their arti- 
facts is quite remarkable. Except in a few places the 
materials were not good. They utilized whatever stone 
was at hand, and we find implements made of quartzite, 
churt chalcedony, jasper and half a dozen volcanic 
rocks. They could produce the most exquisite flakes 
which were used as knives and drills. It is not certain 
whether they obtained these by steady pushing against 
a core or by a sharp blow with a hammer stone. As a 
whole their culture is microlithic; that is, the scrapers, 
knives, drills and arrow points are very small and delicate. 

I believe it is improbable that the Dune Dwellers 
were directly ancestral to the tribesmen who inhabited 

279 



THIS BUSINESS OF EXPLORING 



Mongolia before the present Mongols appeared. It is 
more likely that they left the country as the increasing 
aridity converted more and more of Mongolia into an 
inhospitable desert. Lakes and rivers began to dry up 
and the scanty forests to disappear, game was less abun- 
dant; in short, the plateau became an impossible residence 
for any primitive people. They were forced to migrate 
and migrate they did, carrying their culture to new 
lands. Thus it might easily have reached Europe. I have 
remarked that geological evidence appears to place the 
Dune Dwellers as considerably older than the Azilians, 
their nearest cultural representatives in France and 
Scandinavia. 

During the summer of 1934 Dune Dweller artifacts 
were discovered in Alaska. It is evident, therefore, that 
these people migrated to a considerable distance. What 
their relationship, if any, is to the North American In- 
dians remains to be demonstrated. 



280 



APPENDIX B 



Summary of Outstanding Results of the 
Central Asiatic Expeditions 

BEFORE the Central Asiatic Expeditions went to the 
Gobi Desert, Mongolia was virtually unknown scientifi- 
cally. We were told that it was a desolate waste of sand 
and gravel signifying nothing. Desolate it is in all truth, 
but we found it to be a veritable treasure house packed 
with unknown riches. Those years of work "revealed a 
new volume in the history of the earth," to quote Pro- 
fessor Henry Fairfield Osborn, whose brilliant prophecy 
it was that sent us there. 

We have far from exhausted its possibilities; in fact 
we have but scratched the surface. Yet the information 
that it has already yielded supplies many unknown links 
in earth history and gives a clew to what still remains to 
be discovered. We have learned that Central Asia is the 
oldest continuously dry land in the world. In other words, 
when Europe and America were still being periodically 
elevated and submerged, Central Asia was dry land and 
has remained so since the middle of the Age of Reptiles. 

Underneath the plateau there is an enormous granite 
bathylithj probably the largest in the world, which acts 
as a floor on which the later sediments have been de- 
posited. We have found that the plateau never was 
covered by ice during the period when glaciers were 

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periodically descending and withdrawing over the con- 
tinents of Europe and America. In Central Asia there 
were only small glaciers in the mountains which did not 
extend far out on the plains themselves. In Pleistocene 
time glacial epochs were represented in the Gobi region 
by a change to more humid climate, and interglacial 
epochs by return to desert conditions. 

The Gobi Desert is essentially a rock desert with a 
very thin veneer of shifting sand and much bare rock. 
Evidence is conclusive that this region of Central Mon- 
golia has been arid and semi-arid in its climatic habit for 
many millions of years, but there have been cycles of 
greater and less aridity. The climate, even in recent times, 
had not been uniform. There have been smaller changes 
within the longer cycles. Even within the last great arid 
cycle there have been epochs when the Gobi region was 
comparatively fruitful and could support a numerous 
population, separated by different epochs and difficult 
conditions for animal life. 

We know now that man occupied the valleys of the 
Gobi region immediately after the close of the glacial 
period, and that the different cultures of prehistoric man 
which we discovered probably correspond to recurrent 
favorable climatic conditions. In the intervening times 
conditions were too severe for these peoples to survive- 

We have discovered that this plateau was the mother 
of the continental life of Europe and America. It was a 
sort of palasontological incubator where great groups of 
reptiles and mammals got their start in life and spread 
to other parts of the world. That Mongolia is one of the 
world's greatest fossil fields is evident. 
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It was like a dream come truethe way we discovered 
animals science had told us must be there; also many 
others that no one had even thought of. Just glance at 
some of the thousands of fossils in our collections. There 
are the dinosaur eggs. There are more than a hundred 
skulls of skeletons of dinosaurs, previously unknown to 
science, most of them representing ancestral types. In 
some the preservation is wonderful; probably the finest 
of any known specimens. These reptiles lived eighty or 
ninety million years ago, and yet in one or two we could 
even see the outlines of the stomach and impressions of 
the skin in the matrix of red sandstone. Then, we have 
the only skulls in the world of the oldest true placental 
mammals. They were tiny creatures not much larger than 
a rat, yet they represent Nature's first attempt to populate 
the earth with higher types of animals than the cold- 
blooded dinosaurs which had dominated it during the 
Age of Reptiles. Those seven little skulls did not mean 
much to the man in the street, but they are probably 
the most important single specimens in our entire col- 
lection. 

Also we found the skull and parts of the skeleton of 
Baluchitherium, the world's largest mammal. There is, 
toto, Andrewsarchus, greatest of all flesh-eating mammals. 
These are only a few of the spectacular exhibits, but still 
more important are the teeth and jaws and skeletons 
which represent types ancestral to animals of Europe and 
America, India and Africa. 

As Professor Osborn has written in the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, "these discoveries have established Mongolia 
as a treasure-house of the life-history of the Earth from 

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the close of the Jurassic time onward to the close of the 
Pleistocene time, revealing especially the hitherto un- 
known high continental life of Cretaceous and Tertiary 
time. Consequently, the outstanding geologic discovery 
of the Expedition is, first, that Gobia since Jurassic time 
has been a central Asiatic continent extremely favorable 
to the evolution of reptiles, mammals, insects and plants 
hitherto known only along the Cretaceous shore-lines of 
Europe and the Cretaceous sea-borders of the center of 
America; and, second, that this now terribly desert region, 
traversed by the gazelle and the wild ass, was certainly 
luxuriant with life throughout Cretaceous and Tertiary 
time, sparsely forested, with limited rain supply like the 
high plateau regions of Africa today." 

In zoology, the Expedition collected approximately 
ten thousand mammals, eight thousand reptiles and 
amphibians and eight thousand fish from China and 
Mongolia. In addition to the description of many types 
new to science, the ranges and relationships of numerous 
species have been delineated and clarified. The collec- 
tions have indicated the chief faunal divisions in Mon- 
golia and China. For the first time, sufficient material 
from these regions has been assembled to give a general 
view of the faunas and to make possible handbooks of 
mammals, reptiles and amphibians and fish which are 
now being written. 

The five hundred species comprising the botanical 
collection give a comprehensive view of the flora of Mon- 
golia south of the northern forests. Further studies of the 
distribution of the living plants will, undoubtedly, throw 
light on the past climate. 
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APPENDIX B 



A comparison between the climatic conditions of 
Mongolia and that portion of China lying immediately 
to the south during the Age of Reptiles and Age of 
Mammals brings out the fact that the relative difference 
in rainfall which now exists between these tiuo areas has 
probably extended far back into geologic times. On the 
basis of the fossil record, it is evident that a Sequoia forest, 
closely related to the giant redwoods of western America, 
occupied the windward side of the Khingan Mountains 
and other ranges which run across northern China. 

The living trees of northern China and Japan are of 
special interest because of the similarity of the leaves 
of certain species to those of fossil species in the Tertiary 
of western North America. A species of hawthorn, Cratae- 
gus pinnatifida, has leaves which closely resemble those of 
the fossil C. newberri of eastern Oregon, and there is no 
living American species which shows a like relationship. 
One of the common elms of northern China, Ulmus 
paru i folia, is much like a fossil elm from eastern Oregon 
which has no near relative, either living or fossil, in 
America. 

Interestingly enough, the Sequoia, which is now 
limited to western North America, is found fossil in 
Manchuria. We therefore have the situation of certain 
kinds of trees which occur in North America as fossils 
but no longer live there, although they are present today 
in the forests of Asia; and there are others, which, though 
now extinct, are shown by the fossil record to have lived 
in eastern Asia in the Tertiary, and which survive in the 
living forests of America. 

During the Expeditions' work, about fifty thousand 

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feet of motion-picture film and many thousand still 
photographs were taken. These record all aspects of the 
Expeditions' activities, as well as almost every phase of 
Mongolian life. Such a permanent record of a rapidly 
vanishing culture is of great value. 

While we were in Mongolia, Major Roberts de- 
veloped an entirely new method of mapping, adapted to 
a plains country where there are jew natural landmarks. 
By this method a continuous traverse of nearly a thousand 
miles was made northwestward through the heart of 
Mongolia. The elevations by which the topography was 
sketched were based on an instrumental vertical angle 
line. This was the first time that this method was used 
on the Central Asian plateau. Secondary traverses were 
run by prismatic compass for many hundreds of miles 
and detail maps made of special areas. Altogether forty- 
four maps, almost all of them representing new areas, 
were made and a general map of Mongolia, which is just 
ready for publication, has been prepared. 

Just as a mass of theoretical evidence indicated that 
Central Asia was a great origin and distribution center 
for lower animals, so it is also indicated as the birthplace 
of the human species. Inevitably, the human history has 
come to occupy our thoughts more and more. One story 
we want is that of the Old Stone Age cultures in Central 
Asia and their relation to those of Europe and Africa. 
But our greatest interest is in the incredibly more ancient 
problem of the origin and development of man; a story 
which extends into the past for perhaps millions of years. 
Most of the ranking authorities today agree that man 
must have originated in Asia, but the part of Asia is in 
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APPENDIX B 



dispute. We believe that our high plateau was the so- 
called Garden of Eden. Not that it looks much like a 
garden today. But, as I have said, it was not always thus, 
A few hundreds of thousands of years ago, Central Asia 
was probably not unlike the high plateau region of Africa 
at the present time. Semi-arid in spots, there were also 
rolling meadowlands and patches of open forest. The 
climate was cool and exhilarating; game abundant. Con- 
ditions of life were just difficult enough to stimulate effort 
both mental and physical. Such is the ideal environment 
for the development of the early human type as visualized 
by Professor Osborn. 

Almost certainly man could not have progressed far 
up the evolutionary ladder in a tropical or heavily 
forested country. Life there was too easy. Fruit and nuts 
were abundant; he had but to stretch out his hand to 
obtain food enough to last him for days. The effort of 
living was reduced to a minimum. Early man, as a type, 
required the stimulus of mental and physical effort for 
development, just as man individually requires it today. 
The tropical forests a million or two years ago were 
regions of retirement for three types defeated in the 
struggle for existence by more virile competitors; they 
could not have been incubators for the dominant forms 
of mammalian life. 

We know now that the human species is incredibly 
more ancient than it was supposed to be thirty years ago. 
Then, four or five hundred thousand years was set as 
the uttermost limit; now it is estimated at several million 
years. With each new discovery man's age is being pushed 
back further and further into the past. One reason is the 

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more exact methods of determining the ages of geological 
strata; another is the discovery of flint implements almost 
certainly worked by human hands in the Pliocene period 
of the Age of Mammals. 

Hunting for the bones of primitive man in any part 
of the world is the greatest gamble in scientific explora- 
tion. Human remains are much more difficult to discover 
than are those of other mammals. In the first place, their 
numbers were infinitely few compared to the teeming 
millions of lower creatures. In the second place, even at 
such an early stage, the dawn men were more intelligent 
than their contemporary animals and more frequently 
avoided the quicksand traps, marshes and streams which 
form the most prolific fossil deposits. In the third place, 
their bones were so delicate and easily broken that they 
were not so often preserved as were the more compact 
skeletons of other animals. Still, some have been found; 
others must eventually come to light if the search is con- 
tinued. Our method is to find and study with the utmost 
care those geological strata which are of such an age that 
they could contain human types. We bring to bear upon 
the problem the best scientific knowledge and experience 
available; the result is in the lap of the gods. 



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